“The gunfire around us makes it hard to hear. But the human voice is different from other sounds. It can be heard over noises that bury everything else. Even when it’s not shouting. Even when it’s just a whisper. Even the lowest whisper can be heard over armies… when it’s telling the truth.” – Dr. Edmund Zuwanie
Universal Pictures in association with Working Title Films, Studio Canal and Mirage Enterprises present…
The late Academy Award Winner Director Sydney Pollack (Tootsie) made this final film. He signified the rights of Artist’s and formed Mirage Enterprises with long time friend the late Executive Producer Anthony Minghella who reunites with their main female lead actress Nicole from “Cold Mountain”. Sydney gave so much for the film industry in terms of not just providing quality entertainment but also the means to inspire other film makers to give emphasis on widescreen shots rather than to pan and scan them in order to capture the better picture and storytelling. They are joined by Cinematographer extraordinaire Darius Khondiji (The Beach) nominated for an Oscar in his work Evita in 1997.
The story takes place as two leaders of Matobo, Africa who wants to overthrow the current President for ethnic cleansing and mass murder while it revolves around an Interpreter overhearing an assassination plot while retrieving her things from the sound room. An intriguing film as it deals with global concerns and politics which are not based on governance and humanitarian platforms to secure the every right of an individual but ironic to say, it’s rather based on skin! Sydney made it clear and evident on how he injects the story, where to begin, how to begin to let the audience capture the realism and the plot driven sequences that encompasses the whole film.
The film was banned in Africa since their Leaders drew similarities from Robert Mugabe, Ruler of Zimbabwe and Dr. Edmund Zuwanie from the fictional Matobo. A few things to include are, they were both regarded as a Teacher, waiving his fist or gun to symbolize authority and power, countries such as Australia and New Zealand supporting for his indictment in the ICC (International Criminal Court) for crimes against humanity, resemblance of flags and both were regarded as freedom fighters back in their time! Democracy is earned and not imposed to the people and the end does not justify the means as well.
Passive but full of courage U.N. Interpreter Sylvia Broome is played by Academy Award Winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) while studying voices is her key gift to the nations of the world, it was far more conveyed to the audience what her true agenda really is which I believe was integrated to her own words “vengeance is the lazy form of grief”. Her accent was leaned over to a British, coming from her Mother and was well carried and delivered. Academy Award Winner Sean Penn (Milk) one of the prolific actors of his time, is US Secret Service Tobin Keller. His dedication to his work burdens him with grieving with the loss of his wife. He makes it more adamant for him to fulfill his job while providing initial assessment of the case with partner Dot Woods played by Catherine Keener (40 Year Old Virgin) who did a wonderful performance, providing dead pan sarcasm and straight forwardness to the force and her duties which makes her even on par with Nicole’s more subtle performance.
Both of them are reverse psychologizing each other whether the need to be protected or the permission to be the protector is so obvious. Sylvia and Tobin had different perceptions in life and in what they believe in making their crossing paths unbearable since both have lost someone they loved along the way and I find them especially Tobin giving headway of mixed feelings which I believe were just added in to cement the chemistry between the two protagonists!
A statement made by one of the African Leaders is that countries involved in the United Nations are drowned by mere words and in the process; they can only preserve those who abide by their governing policies. Countries are now ruled by Companies, investing, financing and gaining from their own greed and corruption while their people and fellowmen suffer the consequences of labor laws, diversity issues and abuse of power.
Dialogue was precise but was sometimes dull and faint. The pacing as well was not given absolute cause, it drags and deteriorates further and even the flashbacks were not solid enough to emphasize the grievance of Sylvia making the film less interesting to watch. Another let down was the pictures shown inclusive of Sylvia and her brother Simon being badly photo shopped, it was a simple form of relayed information for the audience to digest and it was not done genuinely. I’m not even into its thriller context, what matters was the instilled subject on freedom being placed into a country with her concern at best signified by the United Nations agendas!
I just let the story linger on how it starts from a whispered conversation and being catapulted to a so called misguided leadership or dictatorship. The premise kicks up a notch uncovering the climactic finale as it realizes aspects of letting communication be the key to understanding what’s best for each country while making Sylvia’s inconsolable actions for her family and lover be the driving force to rectify past wounds!
The film was a little mix up of political rivalry and conspiracy to subjugate the interests of the rulers of the fictionalized state. I remember such films like “Malcolm X” and “The Constant Gardener” to be more intensive not just in delivering the message to the audience but also the circumstances that has brought these so called companies or leaders down to their knees. Frankly speaking, this was just ironic that it was done as well through the violence of a gun and to say that a shot from its chamber can be heard by hordes of men even if it was the faintest one ever made!