The Translators (‘Les Traducteurs’)

THRILLER; 1hr 45min (French with subtitles, English)

STARRING: Lambert Wilson, Olga Kurylenko, Alex Lawther

Insecurity issues: Wilson

In a cerebrally tinged set-up, an international stable of nine translators is hired by an unlikeable publisher (Wilson as Eric) to work in their different languages on the global release of the third volume of a top-selling, high-octane trilogy by an author so reclusive nobody but sniffy-britches Eric knows who he is. The nine will beaver glumly away in locked-down secrecy, sternly deprived of internet and phones, from a bunker squirreled within the French country spread of a Russian billionaire with impeccable taste and a doomsday issue.


The aim, of course, is to avoid any leaks of their precious cargo, which, wouldn’t you know, is exactement what happens when the novel’s first ten pages are posted online with a ransom demand of five million Euro. Pay up or pay for it when more pages and ransoms follow. Eric is fit to be tied.


Since the culprit can only be one of the bookish cabal, everyone in it is instantly suspect despite protestations of innocence, and what a guilty pleasure it is when the eggheads turn on each other like panicked ferals. Director Régis Roinsard keeps the narrative humming through past and present, colouring between blurred lines in fast, decisive strokes that lead deep into a maze of deceit.


There’s not a lot for the cast to play with, depth-wise: navel gazing isn’t necessarily the name of a slippery game whose Paris Métro sequence alone is a masterclass in timing. But the cast members work feverishly with what background they have, most notably a mopey Kurylenko, so affected you pray she’s guilty, Wilson who grows more crazily obnoxious by the scene, and Lawther as a wordsmith whose twiggy frame and boyish face mask a Touch Me Not will. Happy hunting...