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Starring: Steve Buscemi, Sienna Miller, James Franco

Directed by: Steve Buscemi

Produced by: Bruce Weiss, Gijs Van de Westelaken

Written by: Steve Buscemi, David Schnechter

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics


     On the surface, Interview is another one of those art-pictures that raises that infamous critical question: must a viewer sympathize with at least one character in a movie to be able to enjoy it? Typically, my answer to this question would be a definite “yes,” but this film represents an exception to the norm. In fact, the two main characters in Interview are so far removed from the realities of the Manhattan surrounding them—their actions and thoughts are so internalized that find themselves merely floating in a whirlwind of condemnable moral dilemmas—that it would be fruitless of the viewer to expect to find any redeeming or empathetic qualities in either of them. Interview doesn’t work because it allows the viewer to understand these characters, but rather because it indulges said viewer’s fascination for the plane on which said characters exist.

     The leading duo is played by Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller. He’s self-promoting and thick-headed journalist Pierre Peders and she’s Katya, the air-headed “actress” who he has been assigned to interview over dinner. The interview is uncomfortable for the both of them from the moment that they begin to talk: Pierre feels that the task of interviewing a popular celebrity is beneath an important political muckraker such as himself and Katya is offended that he would display such a lack of interest in his subject. One thing leads to another, and the two end up in Katya’s New York City loft, engaging in a slimy-but-addictive war of words while swigging down alcohol by the quart. As the night progresses and each becomes further enraptured in the morbid and uncanny chokehold they have over the other, revelations begin to surface about both Pierre and Katya through the method of their own confession.

     Interview may contain one too many twists regarding Pierre and Katya’s pasts, but is nonetheless an unflinching portrait of two individuals who have found nothing but filth through interaction in their respective social circles. It’s engrossing to watch each character attempt to feel better about their self by taunting the other. Buscemi and Miller are both revelatory in these roles, getting their hands dirty as they embody the two corrupted individuals. What’s more: despite its generally yucky antics, Interview never ceases to function as an accurate narrative-manipulation of identifiable personalities. In other words, even if Pierre and Katya may not be entirely realistic characters in and of themselves, they inhabit character-traits representative of their respective “type” of person, thereby evoking a stimulating study of each’s function in society.

     I am informed that Interview is a remake of a 2003 film by Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was recently slain by a Muslim extremist. This fact seems somewhat strange, given how distinctly American this picture feels. Miller’s Katya comes off as a more-intellectual hybrid of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, and Buscemi’s Pierre is a spot-on representation of just about every other mainstream American journalist currently working. Even when Interview tosses somewhat implausible character-epiphanies into its plot, it always feels to be naturally progressing due to the naively sophisticated nature of its pop-culture-driven Americana setting. 

     Interview may not be an enjoyable motion picture by default, but I found reward in the process of being engrossed in the socially-removed interaction between its focal characters. A viewer looking for immediate satisfaction in a film’s content should not come near this movie; its most-riveting qualities are only digestible after the work is considered as a thematic-whole. In many senses, Interview is what Mike Nichols’ 2004 feature, Closer, would’ve been had Nichols not tried to suggest his characters were normal, everyday people. Pierre and Katya are nasty and perhaps hollow individuals, but they provoke a strong audience reaction as Interview progresses and ends. The film is—all at once—pungent, malaise, and relentless. Those who see it may not like what they witness, but they won’t soon forget it, either.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 8.5.2007

Screened on: 8.4.2007 at the Landmark Hillcrest in San Diego, CA.


Interview is rated R and runs 84 minutes.

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