The Interpreter will divert, bemuse, and possibly confuse you.
U.N. translator Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman) believes she has overheard a death threat against an African head of state - because she was born in his country, she understands the dialect. What she hears disrupts her life and she is suddenly hunted by the killers. Sylvia is given Secret Service protection led by agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn). As Keller digs deeper into her past and her convoluted international connections, he becomes suspicious that she herself may be involved in the whole affair.
Since Tobin has, two weeks previously, suffered a personal loss, can he focus on this situation and keep Sylvia safe? The two of them couldn't be more different. Her strengths are diplomacy, talk and its subtleties of meaning, while Tobin is instinctual, action-oriented.
As the danger of an assassination grows and Silvia's life seems at risk, Silvia and Tobin toy with evasion and revelation as they try urgently to stop an international disaster. There is also a subtle attraction betweeen them, leaving us romantics to hope for the future.
Sean Penn is his usual magnificent self, infusing validity into his role at every turn. Nicole Kidman is good, but not your reviewer's choice as Sylvia.
Sydney Pollack, who as usual plays a small role, (larger than the typical Hitchcock appearance in all of his films) directs this film with some kind of randomness that may confuse. Nevertheless, diversion and involvement are the orders of the day and, despite its faults, The Interpreter may be one of the best films of the year.