T he Interpreter, a well acted and politically relevant film, begins as U.N. interpreter Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) overhears a plot to assassinate Edmund Zuwanie, the president of the fictitious and war-torn African country Matobo. Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) is the federal agent assigned to protect both her and Zuwanie, who is under attack for genocide. As Keller investigates, he discovers Broome's links to Matobo and her troubled past, suspecting her possible involvement.

The film balances its action sequences with personal drama well, focusing in on Keller and Broome's mutual pain and loneliness while never dipping into melodrama. And the film's central debate -- whether to use diplomacy to solve the world's ills (Broome and the U.N.'s method) or violence (Keller's) -- is unmistakably applicable to the political situation today.

Despite intelligent treatment of such timely issues as government corruption and civil war, the climactic scene unfortunately succumbs to Hollywood convention and undermines much of the film's realism. Even there the film skillfully makes its point, showing how good people can lose themselves in a twisted and corrupt world.


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