The Translators (Les Traducteurs) (2019)



I like the resurgence of clever whodunnits, particularly the ones that are character-driven and unpredictable. With The Translators, director Régis Roinsard takes an unlikely but compelling story and fills it with dense narrative, quirky characters and some truly unexpected plot twists.

The story hinges on the imminent release of the third book in the wildly successful Daedalus trilogy by reclusive Oscar Brach. Publisher Eric Angstrom (Lambert Wilson) has sequestered nine translators in an underground bunker and given them two months to translate the book from French into their native language. Security is oppressive and the tension escalates when the first 10 pages are released on the Internet and Eric receives a ransom request to protect the rest of the book from release.

Most of the characters are painted in broad strokes – punky Portuguese agitator Telma (Maria Leite), Russian siren Katarina (Olga Kuryenko), fiery macho Italian Dario (Riccardo Scamarcio), nerdy Brit Alex (Alex Lawther) and dapper Chinese Chan (Frédéric Chau) – but as the story progresses, we begin to see depth and texture in their characterisation. And of course there is more to them and the situation than at first it seems. There are some clues there, if you know where to look, but not enough to spoil the surprises. Although improbable, the denouement is satisfying and feels right for the genre.

The subtitling was not great; I don’t normally comment on this but the constant misspelling of Brach and the lack of indication of language being spoken, particularly for a pivotal scene, was not in keeping with the deft professionalism of the film. Also the final shot lacked elegance but these are small annoyances for what is a fun and satisfying ride.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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