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June 25, 2008

DVD REVIEW: Even Talented Steve Buscemi Can’t Save Interview


By Stephen Silver

Count Interview as a movie that is much more interesting as an idea for a movie, and for its back-story, than for what it actually is. The film, directed by Steve Buscemi, plays much better as an acting exercise than as an actual movie.


A two-character piece about a journalist interviewing a vacuous movie star, Interview is a remake of a film made in 2003 by the Dutch director Theo Van Gogh, who was murdered by an Islamic extremist on an Amsterdam street the following year (the film is dedicated to Van Gogh).


The director has paid tribute to Van Gogh both by remaking the film and giving characters the names of the actors who starred in the original.


It was clearly interesting and honorable for Buscemi to do so – but it sort of says something that the back-story is the most interesting thing about the movie, which feels most of the time like a filmed play, and not a very good one at that.


Buscemi stars as Pierre, a political correspondent for a Newsweek-like magazine who, just as a major scandal is breaking in Washington is sent to interview the vacuous starlet Katya (Sienna Miller). The interview begins in a restaurant and continues at Katya's apartment, as the two characters tussle, and the tone of the discussion (as well as the upper hand) changes multiple times. Secrets are told, double crosses are carried out and reversed and the ending arrives out of left field.


The film's biggest problem is that, as good as the actors are, the material just isn't that interesting. We don't care about these characters, we don't like them and their histories and futures just plain aren't of very much interest. The film is also quite repetitive, and feels much longer than its 84-minute running time. Another problem? The “interview” doesn't really have anything interesting or satirical to say about journalism, celebrity, entertainment or any of its other subjects.


Buscemi is one of those actors who can make just about anything interesting, but even he is in over his head here. Miller also isn't given much to work with, playing just another Britney/Paris/Lindsay stand-in.


Buscemi has directed a handful of other films – most notable being the underrated 1996 indie Trees Lounge – and was also behind the camera for several Sopranos episodes, including the famous "Pine Barrens" installment. But Interview is very far off from his best work.


1.5 stars (out of 4)


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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