Film: Un Traductor

I’ve recently seen Un Traductor here 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 detaches 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.

While the plot has a few weak elements, the film is still a win to bring visibility to Cuba, Chernobyl, languages and translation and interpretation. First, let’s talk 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 talk profession: unless you’ve not been reading my blog, 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”.

Here’s the trailer: