INTERVIEW
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

great-grandnephew of painter Vincent van Gogh,
was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam in
2004 by a religious fanatic who objected to the
subject matter in one of his movies. Since his
death, van Gogh has achieved a sort of artistic
martyrdom and associates of his have
determined to see out a grand plan he had of
remaking three of his feature films in English
and all set in New York City.

The first of these projects is
INTERVIEW,
basically a two-hander about a journalist named
Pierre Peders (Steve Buscemi) assigned to write
a puff piece on a one-named media darling
named Katya (Sienna Miller). In van Gogh's film,
the actors portrayed characters with the same
first names and his leading lady's off screen life
mirrored what was depicted on screen. For the
American version, Buscemi directs (from a
screenplay adaptation he co-wrote with David
Schecter). While Sienna Miller may be best
known to Americans (if at all) for her tabloid
escapades as Jude Law's former girlfriend, she
doesn't exactly carry the cachet for which the
part calls. If only Lindsay Lohan were older, she
would be the perfect choice for the part.

The film starts off with establishing scenes of
each character. Pierre is visiting his catatonic
brother in a mental ward of a hospital while
Katya is seen rehearsing a scene for the
primetime show in which she stars. The
rehearsal has caused her to run late for her
meeting with Pierre at a tony restaurant. For his
part, he is upset, partly because as a former
political correspondent he is champing at the bit
to head to Washington, DC, where a scandal
involving the White House is coming to light.
But as the audience will later learn, there are
reasons why he is isn't on his way to the
nation's capital and instead stuck meeting with
the starlet.

Now, in the past, I used to partake in these
celebrity interview sessions. I've even met the
subjects at restaurants and there's even been
some flirting going on -- although being the
upright person I was, I never crossed any lines.
And I've never had the experiences that unfold
in this movie. No star of Katya's stature would
ever meet a journalist alone without a publicist
or someone nearby.

Pierre is contemptuous of Katya and even calls
her a vulgar name (a pun on her name). The
initial meeting is hate at first sight and things
spiral out of control. But in a weird twist, she
causes the cab in which Pierre is riding to crash
(into a truck for Van Gogh movers, one of the
film's little in-jokes) and takes the journalist
back to her loft. There, the real fireworks begin.

The movie is essentially these two characters
engaging in cat-and-mouse discussions, but in
both cases, they switch personalities so much
that I thought maybe the screenwriters of
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S
END had taken a crack at the script. While both
Buscemi (who has come to resemble John
Waters without the mustache) and Miller
struggle to give their characters depth, the
audience just begins to grow weary. Watching
the film is like attending a stripped down
production of
WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA
WOOLF?
but without the empathy.

I frankly could not care about either of the
people on screen. She comes off as a spoiled,
manipulative and nasty woman and he is equally
repellent. No self-respecting journalist would
ever behave like that (except in the movies) and
no celebrity would openly do drugs and confess
problems with her love life to a reporter. Since
the whole premise of the movie is a conceit that
is unbelievable, the film fails.

Rating:                 D
MPAA Rating:        R for language
                         including sexual
                         references, and some
                         drug use
Running time:       83 mins.


Viewed at the SONY Screening Room
Photo by JoJo Whilden
© 2007 Cinemavault, courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.
All Rights Reserved.