47 Great Movie Moments #46 – The Interpreter

And we continue with this series of 47 moments in film that I love. (Why 47?)  I am almost not 47 anymore, so I should really get these done.  This is number #42.

The Interpreter (2005)

Directed by Sydney Pollack

When UN interpreter Silvia Broome is convinced she has overheard whispers of a plan to assassinate a diplomat, she becomes embroiled in a complex political plot, one that has links to her own personal life.

The Set Up

Secret Service Agent Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) has a lot to interpret himself about the truth of the claims made by Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman), particularly when her personal ties to the alleged intended victim are discovered. Nonetheless, he and his team pursue the investigation with thoroughness and professionalism. This includes staking out and following various suspects…until the shocking moment when three of them end up on the same bus.

The Moment

Silvia is there, and she is there to confront an exiled rebel from the African country at the heart of the plot, whom she believes was involved in the death of her former lover. She is mistaken, however, as the plot is more complex than she believed. Also on the bus is a suspicious man named Jean Gambia, carrying a bag. All the agents involved in the stakeouts nervously maintain their cover. Silvia gets off the bus, and is followed by Gambia. He gives an evil glare to he agent following him, and the agent knows he’s been identified. He and one of his partners quickly change targets, and the partner leaves the bus after Gambia. The agent who stayed behind realizes that Gambia has left his bag behind…and the bus explodes, killing the exiled rebel and everyone else on board.

The Interpreter isn’t a perfect movie, but what is? Having said that, this is close to a perfect scene. The tension we carry with what’s going on is perfectly mirrored by the secret service agents, who realize they are in the midst of a volatile situation but are able to do little to address it.

The movie is a slow burn across it’s entire running length, dealing with the pain in the background of the characters played by Kidman and Penn as much as anything else, so when the film turns to more explicit suspense and action, as it does in this scene, it’s arresting.

The Payoff

Gambia gets away, but not for long. He is killed when Keller discovers him in Silvia’s apartment, and the mystery behind the whole situation is finally brought to light.

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