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Movie Review: The Interpreter

Alternate Title: Speaking in Tongues

Story: A well constructed, slick looking film is always a joy to watch. Combine that with a story that smacks of politics (mine), good acting, my favorite City as a locale and I am a fan.

Director Sydney Pollack knows how to make big movies that keep you interested in the story and characters. UN interpreter Sylvia Broome happens to overhear an assassination plot (once you get over this impossible coincidence you can go with the flow) being planned on the President of the fictitious African nation of Matobo who has gone from a democratic savior to a genocidal dictator (insert any real African region such as Rwanda, Uganda, Darfur or Zimbabwe and it is not a big stretch).

How this all plays out is the thriller part. There is great editing and camera work to maintain your interest. Inject the CIA, FBI, unprecedented access to actual filming in the UN and you have one entertaining film.

Acting: Sean Penn is on my favorites list. He is right on the money as the suspicious CIA operative. Nicole Kidman is always good in her roles. It just takes me time to get comfortable with her at the beginning of each of her films. A fine ensemble supporting cast including the terrific Catherine Keener as the other CIA agent. I would like to have seen more of the Penn Keener relationship.

Predilection: I like films shot in NYC. I like films about politics. I like thrillers, not chillers. I like Sean Penn.

Food: No time to eat when there is always a crisis at hand.

Blatant Product Placement: Apple, Nikon, New York City and my favorite TV station, NY1 and NY1's sweet Pat Kiernan as himself.

Soundtrack: Interesting blend of tunes.

Opening Titles: A short, violent segment that takes place in the fictitious country of Matobo and then a cutaway to NYC and the titles.

Visual Art: Lots of African masks, interesting paintings and photos.

Theater Audience: Packed for a Monday afternoon showing at 3.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Predictability Level: High (I figured it all out fairly early on but didn't care).

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: If you like international politics you will enjoy some of the digs directed at real current events .I kept imagining John Bolton as our UN Ambassador and getting a wave of nausea.

Nit Picking: The film could have been twenty minutes shorter. Also, Nicole Kidman's hair was always in her right eye and it was very annoying.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some of Sydney Pollack's other films try renting: The Firm, Havana, Out of Africa, Tootsie, Absence of Malice, The Electric Horseman, Three Days of the Condor, The Way We Were, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Length: a bit over two hours