Parents' Guide to

The Interpreter

By Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

This intense thriller is best for older teens.

Movie PG-13 2005 128 minutes
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Sydney Pollack's thriller is at once topical and abstract. While its subject matter is immediate (African genocide, U.S. intelligence agency confusions, personal and collective traumas), it maintains a certain distance by setting its political and economic strife in a fictional nation that resembles Zimbabwe. The opening imagery is quite explicit.

The script alternates between preposterous and poetic (some of Penn and Kidman's exchanges are lovely), and leans heavily on coincidence. It's also troubling that Silvia's individual trauma tends to displace the genocide in Africa, a life-and-death issue that is slowly gaining more media attention, in fiction and other forms. That a white woman bears the visible burden of this violent history, however, obscures the high costs for black Africans, a conventional strategy to attract "mainstream" (white) viewers.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: April 22, 2005
  • On DVD or streaming: October 4, 2005
  • Cast: Catherine Keener , Nicole Kidman , Sean Penn
  • Director: Sydney Pollack
  • Inclusion Information: Middle Eastern/North African actors, Female actors
  • Studio: Universal Pictures
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 128 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: violence, some sexual content and very brief strong language.
  • Last updated: January 2, 2023

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