Nic at Night:
A Review of Nicole Kidman in The Interpreter

by Tony Phillips

First things first, unless Amiee Mann of ‘Til Tuesday fame just happens to be releasing a new solo album called The Interpreter on April 22nd, the ads for this Nicole Kidman Peacemaker rehash, plastered high and low, definitely qualify as false advertising. No, our Nic has not gone white-blonde pixie, as this campaign suggests, but would that were the end of the bad news. Despite, or, more likely, on account of, this suspense thriller’s Oscar pedigree — Sean Penn, the aforementioned Aussie, director Sydney Pollack — coupled with unprecedented access to shoot inside the international territory of Manhattan’s United Nations building produces a two-hour plus film which reads like too many sign-offs. Yet instead of a camel, this horse-by-committee plays like a neutered Dogville. Can you blame Lagerfeld for not authorizing a new do?

The multi-million dollar U.N. PSA opens in sub-Saharan Africa with a sick joke. Our generic despot is introduced after murdering half the town. How could it get worse? “He could murder the other half,” comes the reply. And faster than you can say Louise Jefferson, he’s winging his way to the east side for a “no shopping, no Lion King” visit to address the general assembly, as murderous despots are want to do. Of course, he’ll be allowed to whisk past metal detectors with that gun he’s forever brandishing. Fortunately, our Nic returns to work late one evening to retrieve her bag of flutes under the desk for — and I swear I’m not making this up — flute practice and overhears a credible threat to our generic despot from the darkened assembly floor broadcast over her translator earphones.

While this does nothing to improve her flute playing, her man situation picks up considerably after she’s assigned federal agent Tobin Keller. Um, Tobin? Is this some attempted backhand at former Cruiser Mimi Rogers and her infinitely better Someone to Watch Over Me? Let it go, Nic. You’ve got gloriously weathered Sean Penn, filmdom’s most handsome actor, in front of you and you’re emoting like a wet sparkplug. The South African accent comes and goes as well, but before it’s done there’s an insipid Hitch Rear Window rip that reads coffee commercial, a blown-up bus (again, thanks Nic) and the most abhorrent AIDS line in recent memory: “None of the people who are here are going to live very long. It’s an AIDS hospice.” Is this a period piece? And as a New Yorker, it behooves me to return to that bombed B-133. Blow up a bus down under in Kings Cross, Nic, and keep us out of it. Darling, I love you, but leave me Park Avenue.