The Interpreter


The Interpreter

Critics Consensus

A polished and intelligent thriller, though marred by plot implausibilities.



Total Count: 194


Audience Score

User Ratings: 79,231
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Movie Info

Escalating events begin when African-born U.N. translator Silvia Broome alleges that she has overheard a death threat against an African head of state, spoken in a rare dialect few people other than Silvia can understand. With the words "The Teacher will never leave this room alive," in an instant, Silvia's life is turned upside down as she becomes a hunted target of the killers. Placed under the protection of federal agent Tobin Keller, Silvia's world only grows more nightmarish. As Keller digs deeper into his eyewitnesses' past and her secretive world of global connections, the more suspicious he becomes that she herself might be involved in the conspiracy. With every step of the way, he finds more reasons to mistrust her. Is Sylvia a victim? A suspect? Or something else entirely? And can Tobin, coping with his own personal heartache, keep her safe? Though they must depend on one another, Silvia and Tobin couldn't be more different. Silvia's strengths are words, diplomacy and the subtleties of meaning, while Tobin is all about instinct, action and reading into the most primal human behaviors. Now, as the danger of a major assassination on U.S. soil grows and Silvia's life hangs in the balance, Silvia and Tobin play out a gripping dance of evasion and revelation that keeps them both guessing as they race to stop a terrifying international crisis before it's too late.

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Nicole Kidman
as Silvia Broome
Sean Penn
as Tobin Keller
Yvan Attal
as Philippe
Earl Cameron
as Zuwanie
George Harris
as Kuman-kuman
Clyde Kusatsu
as Police Chief Lee Wu
Hugo Speer
as Simon Broome
Curtiss Cook
as Ajene Xola
Curtis l'Cook
as Ajene Xola
Byron Utley
as Jean Gamba
Robert Clohessy
as FBI Agent King
Terry Serpico
as FBI Agent Lewis
David Wolos Fonteno
as Phillip Ostroff
John Knox
as Fred Jameson
David Zayas
as Charlie Russell
Lynne Deragon
as American Ambassador Davis
Christopher Evan Welch
as Jonathan Williams
Manuel Mawele
as African Boy
Dino Mulima
as African Boy
as African Boy
Lou Ferguson
as Matoban Ambassador
Vladimir Bibic
as G.A. President
Jacques Sebag
as French Ambassador
Pietro Gonzalez
as Chilean Ambassador
Michael Patrick McGrath
as Jonathan Ferris
Paul De Sousa
as Portuguese Janitor
Chris McKinney
as Forensic Officer
Martha Elliott
as Woman On Bus
Jim Ward
as U.N. Security Officer
Trevor Archer
as U.N. Security Officer
Ricardo Walker
as U.N. Security Officer
Harry O'Reilly
as U.N. Security Officer
Kirby Mitchell
as U.N. Security Officer
Guy A. Fortt
as U.N. Security Officer
Ramsey Faragallah
as Polygraph Technician
Nelson Landrieu
as Spanish Speaking Interpreter
Leonid Citer
as Russian Interpreter
Satish Joshi
as Secretary General
Sophie Traub
as Young Silvia
Monty Ashton-Lewis
as Young Simon
Pat Kiernan
as Himself
Margot Staub
as News Reporter
Harry W. Prichett
as News Reporter
Ed Onipede Blunt
as News Reporter
Diane Winter
as British Airways Ticket Agent
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News & Interviews for The Interpreter

Critic Reviews for The Interpreter

All Critics (194) | Top Critics (46)

  • Penn is terrific in his low-key doggedness.

    May 12, 2006
  • This is largely a competent, successful thriller, but observing global politics from this perspective is an uncomfortable, frustrating experience.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The film's themes are disappointingly vague and unspecific, built around a fictitious African country that stands for anywhere -- and consequently nowhere.

    Sep 26, 2005

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • I was steadily absorbed by The Interpreter, even though much of the plot didn't make a great deal of sense.

    Apr 28, 2005 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Top Critic
  • While it pains me to beat up on Pollack, who, in addition to being a consistently wonderful actor, is at least attempting to make movies the old-fashioned way, it pains me more to actually sit through his movies.

    Apr 23, 2005
  • As a straight-ahead thriller, the movie is enjoyable and stirring much of the time.

    Apr 22, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Interpreter

  • Aug 03, 2011
    Tobin Keller: I'd rather make the mistake of believing her, than the bigger one of not.  "The truth needs no translation" Despite liking both Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn(both of whom give good performances), I was left underwhelmed when The Interpreter was all said and done. For the most part, it was really just a dull drama with some thriller elements tossed in here and there. It never had me on the edge of my seat like it could have. It's not technically a horrible movie, but I really found no joy in it. Other then the leads; the film doesn't really have any redeemable qualities. It's really dialogue heavy which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired.  There are a few really interesting scenes, but as a whole the movie never really comes together. It doesn't flow at a good pace. It's slow, slower and then slowest and then for a three minute stretch it will pick up the pace. Then it will go back to it's snail crawl. I'm okay with slow films if they have good characters, dialogue and situations. This movie has one interesting character(Kidman's, Penn's character was lifeless, although he did play him well), bad dialogue and two or three cool situations. I really wish this would have turned out different with the people involved. But I guess I can just go watch one of Penn's or Kidman's countless great movies.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 21, 2011
    Taut, gripping and intelligent, The Interpreter works very well as intended - a political thriller. Looking at the premise and plot, the film could have been handled much clumsier than it actually was. Sean Penn puts his down-on-his-luck everyman charm to good use, but a great character seems a little wasted on Nicole Kidman. Her accent falters and she's all but very stiff, but it's nothing that cripples the film. The movie balances some far-out political conspiracies with a convincing look at the inner workings behind the security at the United Nations General Assembly, and it does help immensely that it was actually shot on-location at the UN. The film is very effective at both a macro and micro level; the international politics and personal emotional drama both carry to same amount of narrative weight. The late director Pollack is smart with his scenes and shots, and the film works best at pulling the audience along for the ride, and spinning a yarn so involving that the loopholes seem negligible.
    Jedd Y Super Reviewer
  • Dec 28, 2010
    A disastrous film that wants to be more complex than it should be, coming up with more and more unnecessary details at the expense of simple concision, and so the obvious, predictable narrative gets lost amid contrivances, implausible scenes and plot holes the size of Africa.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 04, 2010
    "The Interpreter" is an emotional final film from Sydney Pollack. This is a classy picture that harkens back to the political thrillers of the 60s, but it's done in such a way that it actually hinders much of the plot. The plot, while fitfully absorbing, can dip into the convoluted, but thankfully, the strength of the characterizations and the accompanying performances make up for it. Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn deliver fine work, in roles that give them much more to do rather than fall in love or other such cliches of the genre. "The Interpreter", overall, works fine as a film but works better when viewed as the capstone for a talented director's career.
    Steven C Super Reviewer

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