12/17/2007

Interview

Director: Steve Buscemi

In the first of a scheduled trilogy of American remakes of movies made by murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, director, co-writer and star Steve Buscemi crafts a uniquely claustrophobic and admittedly incredulous satire on the nature of celebrity that rivets audiences within minutes and never surrenders. Working with co-writer David Schechter, based on Theodor Holman’s original screenplay, their film-- although accurately criticized for its dubious reality-- is undeniably compelling and addictive, thanks largely in part by the performances of not only the pitch perfect Buscemi but by the seductive tour de force from British actress Sienna Miller that’s even more impressive than her oft-cited turn in Factory Girl. Set over the course of one evening, we follow Buscemi’s reporter Pierre Peders, a Washington war correspondent with a tarnished reputation now relegated to profile puff pieces of celebrities such as his latest assignment to interview sexy siren Katya (Miller), currently starring in a Sex and the City like television show. Unable to mask his contempt for her lifestyle of implants and gossip or the way she makes a living, he arrives at the restaurant unprepared and when Katya strolls in very late for their appointment and then demands that a few nobodies leave her favorite table so that they can sit there, he lets her have it with both barrels. The war of words turns into a tense heated exchange causing Katya to storm out. When the beguiling beauty of the actress’ smile causes Pierre’s cab driver to have an accident, Katya, feeling guilty, convinces the reporter to come to her apartment. The first aid quickly turns into drinks, baits, and a tense battle of not only the sexes but of intellectual one-ups as well while the duo flirt, argue and reach as Buscemi noted on the DVD a enhanced level of intimacy some married couples don’t achieve. The surreal sense of isolation and voyeurism takes effect as Buscemi uses van Gogh’s signature method of shooting with three simultaneous video cameras which causes viewers to feel a heightened sense of guiltily observing life being lived, although the lives feel a bit theatrical and over-written. However, despite the seemingly stagey way the film which feels distinctly divided into acts is executed, we cannot stop watching, shocked from one line to the next as the troubled two with an undeniable connection begin to hit each other where it hurts with accusations, confessions and truths that we’re never sure we believe. Unfortunately it's all wrapped up much too abruptly in a predictably “gotcha” twist of a conclusion which satisfies the need for the filmmakers to tap right into the trend of the moment in a way that doesn’t feel at all earned and in fact slightly cheapens the brilliance that came before it. Still, quick finale aside, the reason to watch is for the interplay between the leads and for the star-making turn by Miller who-- with her work in Casanova and Factory Girl-- has always been on the cusp of fame. My only worry is that despite her admirable choice to appear in thought provoking independent or art house films, most audiences won’t get the chance to discover her—yet her anonymity works wonders for a film like Interview where we buy right into her as Katya and hopefully now with its release on DVD, other viewers will give this talented actress their attention as well.