Friday, August 26, 2005

The Interpreter

An awkward combination of the real UN building and a fake Robert Mugabe, but nowhere near as silly as some of the critics have made out.

Back in '85 I spent a few days helping out a friend that was working in the NGO section at the UN, and quickly reached the conclusion that the building itself is a whole lot less interesting than the people that make a living within it.

Strangely, Nicole Kidman's character is the only UN employee with a significant role in this convoluted plot. I tend to disagree with Roger Ebert that the role could just as easily have been played by a black actress, as I think some of the cleverer nuances of the script would have been lost that way. At times Kidman and Penn appear awash in a sea of cliches, but the fact that they successfully avoid the classic falling onto the bed scene is highly commendable.

I also caught the first two thirds of Hotel Rwanda on the plane, which has strong echoes of Oliver Stone's Salvador.

Both The Interpreter and this one are condescending towards Africa in their own way. Hotel Rwanda imagines that the less-racist way of telling the story is to blame the origins of the whole mess on the Belgian colonists, and goes on to emphasise the cowardice of the international (i.e. white) community in the face of "acts of genocide". I will have to rent the DVD and watch through to the end in order to discover if there's anything more to say about this film. It has the one thing The Interpreter conspicuously lacks, the "based on a true story" shock-factor.

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