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  • Writer's pictureFiona Prior

The Translators ('Les Traducteurs')

The Translators ('Les Traducteurs')

Director: Régis Roinsard

More sexy than an Agatha Christie and with a distinctly French accent (which accounts for the more sexy, I guess) ‘The Translators’ is an ingeniously twisting and turning play on your old-style ‘who-dunnit’ mixed up with modern technology and hacker terrorism.

A best-selling author has mesmerised the world and his French language manuscript is to be translated into a nine languages for simultaneous release, to optimise first day sales. We are under no illusion that any leaked material is going to cost the publishes millions, though our publisher Eric Angstrom (Lambert Wilson), goes to somewhat extreme lengths to secure his tome.

Our translators arrive at the rented mansion of a Russian oligarch that has a built-in in bunker that is impossible to leave or enter without a code. They are stripped of all communication tools and we learn they have been employed to translate the novel – ten pages at a time – under strict lock down in this palatial prison.

The translators are a marvellously diverse bunch ranging from a Greek college professor to Danish punkette and I did wonder if this latter shaved and tattooed character was a teasing homage to the ridiculously lucrative and best-selling ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ series. Our author’s name ‘Oscar Brach’ is definitely part of the playful fun as are many moments during the film where clues from past books propel our story forward, not unlike an Umberto Eco or Dan Brown novel. A little bit of Hitchcock and a whole lot of ‘murder mystery in the mansion’, you will enjoy spotting the references though they are not played for laughs.

It is not until we discover that the first ten pages of the novel have been leaked – somehow, though it seems impossible – that we actually understand what lengths our publisher Angstrom will go to, to protect his property.

All the tropes of a thriller are here. A body is (of course) found in the library and there is an impossibly beautiful and mysterious woman who appears to be a character straight out of the novel. Red-herrings and moments of life-an-death suspense are used liberally. The narcissistic Angstrom who has choreographed what he thought was a fool-proof means to keep his best-seller a secret until release is murderously furious and will go to any lengths to stop further leaks.

Have to mention there is also a great use of two-way mirrors and accusatorial dialogue spliced into the main narrative and we are never quite sure who is on the other side of this conversation until a somersault at the end.

Very French and fun.

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