I’ve recently watched the film Un Traductor in Washington, D.C., about a professor of Russian literature at Universidad de La Habana turned into a medical interpreter where Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster’s victims are being treated in Cuba.
Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro is compelling, intense and spellbinding (did you hear #crush?) as Malin, who gradually grows more and more detached from his own family, as he becomes emotionally and physically depleted by the pain and agony of watching children perishing from radiation before his very eyes.
In a conversation with director brothers, Rodrigo and Sebastián Barriuso, it becomes clear that they took many liberties in turning autobiography (based on their dad’s story) into elements of the seventh art – philosophically, about a man’s growing pains and his (indeed) heroic journey.
While the plot has a few weak elements, the film is still a win, bringing visibility to Cuba, Chernobyl, languages, and translation and interpretation. First, let’s address language: Santoro learned (Cuban) Spanish and Russian phonetically in two months and then took a deep dive into Stanislavsky’s method acting of complete emotional identification with the part. Then, let’s focus on the translation and interpretation profession: unless you’ve hiding under a rock, you know that translators write and interpreters speak, but the director duo specifically chose The Translator because “Interpreter” could be confused with “singers” or “actors.”
Check out the trailer: