Interview (2007)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama
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Steve Buscemi Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi Steve Buscemi
Sienna Miller Sienna Miller
Michael Buscemi Michael Buscemi
Tara Elders Tara Elders
David Schechter David Schechter

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: January 05, 2008
The idea was simple enough - take three of Theo Van Gogh's films and re-shoot them for an American audience. For those of you unaware, Theo Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who made controversial and provocative pictures dealing with a range of issues. His film, "Submission Part One" was the film that lead to his death, when he was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist who responded poorly to the premise of the previously mentioned film, which dealt with the mistreatment of women in the Muslim faith. So, Van Gogh's friends and co-workers decided to orchestrate the implementation of something Theo always wished a reality - to have his films reach a mainstream American audiences. The idea was to take three of his films and have American directors, specifically New York based directors, tackle the projects. The first of these translations was "Interview", directed by and starring Steve Buscemi. Don't ask me why Buscemi was the first choice for this project. His career as a director is not exactly momentous, nor is his connection with New York City. When you think of the Big Apple, directors like Woody Allen, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese come to mind. Not Steve Buscemi. Whatever their reasons, they started off with Van Gogh's most accessible picture, "Interview". Van Gogh didn't direct his films to be instantly accessible, but "Interview" is the one dazzling exception.

The premise is as simple as they come, yet not. A disgruntled reporter, Pierre Peders (Steve Buscemi) is given a fluff piece - to interview one of the biggest stars in the world, Katya (Sienna Miller) - instead of his usual political commentary. Disapprovingly, he sits down to interview the star, thinking he will find nothing but your typical vapid celebrity, but soon learns she is far deeper and more complicated than he ever imagined. The film follows the relationship between Pierre and Katya as Pierre digs for his story and Katya digs for information about the reporter. Most of the film takes place inside Katya's loft apartment, with the two characters doing a dance, a sordid cat and mouse game to try and get to one another. Each is smarter than the other gives them credit for, and each is more vulnerable than the other ever imagined. The ending of the film finds both characters revealing their true colors and finding a means to an end. "Interview" is one of those films you just imagine working so much better on stage when, in fact, it works just fine on film. It gave me the same feeling I got while watching Richard Linklater's "Tape" - so intimate and so real. Really, the film is just a chance for two actors to absolutely shine, in whatever language they speak. The two characters are not really that likable, but you can't dislike them either. In a sense, they deserve one another to the fullest extent. "Interview" is not a bad picture, just not very eventful.

Maybe I just wanted more. I could appreciate everything the film was trying to accomplish and especially how minimalistic it was trying to be. However, it never took off. I was listening to what the characters were saying and watching what the characters were doing and just never felt like the plot was progressing enough for me. I just kept waiting for something more. I guess one of the qualities of "Interview" is that it is so real and stripped down, but maybe Hollywood has just neutered my sensitivity because it was not enough that these two people were making a connection. I needed something darker and more satisfying. It also doesn't help that we've seen this kind of cat and mouse game before in films, so it was nothing new. Surprisingly, however, the pace of the film was actually very upbeat and the picture never seems to lag. Buscemi directs with a sure hand and always wants to keep his audience interested in what is going on, even if it doesn't really seem to want to go anywhere. I also thought the cinematography was pretty incredible, which consisted of three digital cameras shooting simultaneously to capture more of the action firsthand. This was an interesting technique and it paid off beautifully. I wish more films would utilize this method. It also makes you appreciate the performance far more this way.

Speaking of the performances, there is really nothing negative to say. It's a two person show and each actor does remarkably well with the material. When is Steve Buscemi not fascinating to watch on screen? "Interview" probably gives him his most complete role in a long time. He deserves it and he carries it off. He really breathes life into the character of Pierre and makes him just what he needs to be. Basically, a bastard. Sienna Miller proves apt company for Buscemi, really turning on the heat here as Katya. I have never thought her work was anything exceptional, but she really gives me something to admire here. The two have an awkward, natural chemistry that is visible through out the film and their relationship is more playful than anything else. You have to think this film could have easily been miscast, causing an utter disaster in the long run. Imagine this film with actors like Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman in the roles? Nothing against those performers, but I think this screenplay requires just the right touches from just the right performers.

With all of that said, I think translating Van Gogh's work for an American audience kind of paints an unfortunate picture of American audiences. Does this mean an American audience can't access a Van Gogh picture because it's not in our language? American audiences have been embracing foreign entertainment for years now. I understand the desire to translate some films to American generalities to make money, but to do it because you want to expose your work to an American audiences - aren't you already doing that, and in its original form? "Interview" was a good film and it was entertaining, but the performances were the most admirable quality of the film. I prefer the original film from Van Gogh and don't understand why it wasn't enough. There really wasn't a point to this film being made other than to likely misunderstand what Van Gogh wanted to do with the translations anyway. "Interview" is not going to appeal to most people. In fact, it will probably appeal to as many people as the original film did. So, what did it really accomplish?

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