Typically, when a film starring Nicole Kidman arrives in the movie theaters it comes with a lot of fanfare. Especially those where she has co-stars like Sean Penn and Catherine Keener. But one of Kidman’s movies, while enjoying success at the theater, could be considered overlooked. But overlook it no more as Netflix has brought it to their streaming audience.
The Interpreter is a political thriller starring Nicole Kidman as United Nations Interpreter Silvia Broome. The story begins in the Republic of Matobo before we meet Silvia. Rebel leader Ajene Xola brings two men, Simon and Philippe to an abandoned stadium so they can discuss how the regime of President Edmond Zuwanie has exterminated most of the population and silenced survivors.
When Ajene and Simon return to the field after inspecting corpses nearby, they are promptly executed by young boys who are part of Zuwanie’s secret police. Philippe, who had remained hidden in the car, is able to escape but not before taking some candid pictures of the scene to include some of Matoban officials arriving at the field.
Nicole Kidman as Silvia has an impressive and diverse background. Not only has she studied music in Johannesburg, but she also studied linguistics at the Sorbonne University in Paris as well as various other European countries. Silvia has a penchant for learning languages that finds her working at the United Nations in New York City.
The U.N., though, is looking to indict Zuwanie for his crimes against humanity and bring him to U.N. for trial. A security scare forces the evacuation of the U.N building, including Silvia (Nicole Kidman). When she returns later that night to retrieve some of her belongings, she accidentally overhears two men discussing an assassination plot in Ku, the Matoban language. She is forced to flee when the men discover her and give chase.
During a meeting the following day, Nicole Kidman is ready to put her translation expertise to work when Silvia recognizes words from phrases she heard the night before. The assassination plot seems to be targeting Zuwanie. She reports this to the U.N. security, who report this to the Secret Service. Dignitary Protection Division agents Tobin Keller (Penn) and Dot Woods (Keener) are then brought in to investigate Silvia’s claims. The pair are also tasked with protecting Zuwanie when he arrives in New York.
Things begin to get even more complicated for Silvia when Keller learns of her past affiliation with a Matoban guerrilla group and that her parents and sister were killed by landmines set by Zuwanie’s soldiers. Keller’s suspicions grow even more when he finds out that Silvia also dated one of Zuwanie’s political opponents.
Phillipe reemerges from hiding to inform Silvia of Ajene’s death but doesn’t tell her about Simone, who is her brother. When Phillipe turns up dead, Silvia also finds out that her brother was killed by Zuwanie’s secret police.
Silvia has revenge on her mind. Has she been behind the whole thing? What happens when she comes face-to-face with the man who murdered her entire family?
While The Interpreter wasn’t a solid hit with critics, it did fare well at the box office. Sydney Pollack directed the film that is noted for receiving permission to shoot inside U.N. General Assembly and Security Council chambers, something unheard of. In fact, Pollack was initially turned down in his request to film scenes inside the U.N so he went to the then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan to personally negotiate to film inside the U.N. Filming took place on weekends, nights, or even public holidays so it wouldn’t interfere with the day-to-day U.N. activities.
For Pollack’s part, he was given an $80 million stipend to film The Interpreter from a script written by Charles Randolph, Scott Frank, and Steven Zaillian. It paid off as the movie brought back $163 million at the box office.
Nicole Kidman has seen some time on the big screen. The Honolulu, Hawaii-born Australian began her career working on many Australian productions. One of her first American movies was Dead Calm, the overlooked and underrated thriller starring Kidman, Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), and the wonderfully psychotic Billy Zane.
Immediately after opening eyes with Dead Calm, Kidman was hired to play opposite Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder, where she made a strong impression on Cruise. The pair married the same year Days of Thunder premiered. The then-married couple would star in two more movies together before their relationship turned sour, the 1992 Ron Howard film Far and Away and the 1999 Stanley Kubrick erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut.
Personally speaking, Nicole Kidman has had two high-profile marriages. The first, obviously, to Tom Cruise, which lasted eleven years, and her second coming to singer/songwriter Keith Urban. Urban and Kidman have been married for fifteen years and are still going strong.
Nicole Kidman followed up The Interpreter with the movie faux pas, Bewitched. The film was highly and negatively criticized for taking what was a beloved television series and turning it into a Will Ferrell vehicle. The chemistry between the two leads didn’t work for audiences as well as the liberties writer/director Nora Ephron took with the classic characters of Samantha and Darrin.
Throughout her career, Kidman has been part of many hits and misses. Her Hits include Billy Bathgate, To Die For, Practical Magic, Moulin Rouge! and The Others while her misses include Batman Forever, The Stepford Wives, the aforementioned Bewitched, and Queen of the Desert.
Most recently Nicole Kidman has jumped over to the small screen appearing in two highly acclaimed series, Big Little Lies and The Undoing.
Up next for Nicole Kidman could be the most challenging role of her career as she takes on comedy legend Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos. Javier Bardem plays Desi Arnaz while J.K. Simmons plays William Frawley (Fred) and Nina Arianda portrays Vivian Vance (Ethel). Kidman knows her challenges. She explained to Chris Rock in an interview with Variety, one of the biggest. “I’ve had to put in an enormous amount of time on Lucille Ball right now, because she has a very particular way of speaking,” she said to Rock. She also acknowledges another big challenge is simply being funny. “I am way out of my comfort zone right now, Chris. I’m free-falling,” Kidman said. “I’d like to be funny. I’m never cast funny.”
Being the Ricardos has yet to be given a premiere date but until that time you can head on over to watch Nicole Kidman’s political thriller The Interpreter.