The Interpreter Sydney Pollack

The Interpreter is schlock, but it has such faith in its sappy vision that you have to give it props for confidence. Nicole Kidman stars as an UN interpreter from a fictitious African country who hears a whispered plot against that nation's strongman dictator. Unfortunately, the secret service (represented by Sean Penn) doesn't believe her due to her shady past as a dissident and a family motive to off El Presidente. This, naturally, is the springboard for some nonsensical liberal fantasising about white benevolence, pacifism versus violent resistance and yes, the important role of the UN. It's a Hollywood do-gooder's way of pleading with Washington to heed international law, but the message gets subsumed in some irrelevant personal intrigue and hilariously bad melodrama. But there's some goofy fun to be had watching Kidman and Penn make tormented eyes at each other while swapping tales of family tragedy, taking everything so seriously that they jack the movie straight over the top. Also, the screenplay never fails to entertain with its series of flagrant inconsistencies (key evidence repeatedly eludes the secret service) and outrageous dialogue (i.e., Penn "instructing" a shooter on how to put down a gun). Best of all, Sydney Pollack delivers the best, most fluid directing job he's done in years, full of slick photography and a sincere belief in the material out of Douglas Sirk's reject pile. Art and politics it's not, but a florid good time it is, with the makings of a drinking game for every ludicrous utterance. Extras include a commentary by Pollack that's full of windy statements and condescension, a ridiculous alternate ending, an interview with Pollack that's more pompous blather, Pollack again on the merits of widescreen over pan-and-scan, a featurette on shooting at the UN building, another on actual interpreters, and three deleted scenes. (Universal)