Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Interpreter

This wasn't a movie I especially wanted to see, although it wasn't on the avoid-at-all-costs list, either. Having seen the trailer a few times, I pretty much felt like I'd seen the movie. Trailers that highlight plot points in sequential order are super-annoying to me, partly because of what they give away, but also because they imply an intentional dumbing down of the film to attract spoon-fed audiences.

But a friend wanted to go, so I went along, and really, it was pretty good. The plot is intricate enough that most of the crowd in the post-showing bathroom line was trading theories on what had happened. Good, intelligent theories, too, I might add. So maybe, the studio marketing team was right - the movie is too smart for the masses, so a bit of advance plot spoilers will only lay the groundwork so that the less able to keep up don't actually walk out, completely confused. I'm not sure, but for once, knowing that a, b, c, and d were going to happen didn't detract from my overall involvement, because just getting from one to the other involved all the other letters of the alphabet.

It depresses me to see Sean Penn as an old man. I know he's done a lot of movies, but it seems like he just leaped from Jeff Spicoli teenager to old-guy, never stopping at hero-in-his-prime. Or maybe it's just that, knowing he's close to my age, I expect him to look the way I feel - and we're not that old, dammit.

I am freaked out by how pale and thin Nicole Kidman is, but her character was that very fragile, dainty, tightly wound soul that she is so good at playing. Nothing about her performance particularly struck me, until the end, when she referred to "my Africa" (her character was raised in the fictional African country the movie centers around, born to a "white African" father and a British mother.) Yes, there was something striking about a super pale blonde woman calling home the country whose other residents (as seen throughout the film) are dark-skinned, and maybe it's that jarring feeling that is supposed to make you think. But really? I would have loved to see this movie with an African American lead actress (hell, an African lead actress, although I admit I don't know any) because it would have had a whole different feel, and I think, a more resonant one. Fake-blonde Nicole working at the UN, living in a fictional African country - neither of these is especially real or believable. Or that interesting.

Oh, and Nicole? Have a sandwich. The photos of you at the premier were ghastly. Just because you were playing an African doesn't mean you have to look like a poster child for one of those feed the world causes.


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