9 October 2003 | Dark0
I have a passion for films with dark settings. What's even better is when the film is not only dark and dismal but also deep and engrossing. With a combination of Anne Rice's script and Neil Jordan's direction, the overlooked Interview with the Vampire not only looks great but contains good material. Most of the time when a film is based on a novel it will try to capture the themes of the novel by choosing areas to work from. Luckily Anne Rice also writes the screenplay and understands more than anyone else what areas need addressing, providing the backbone to the dialogue and plot.
Set in 1791 Orleans and progressing through different periods of time, IWTV is technically excellent and aware of its surroundings. From the first moment your eyes are fixed on the screen. This is the sign of great art direction coupled with costume design and set pieces that are more than pleasing on the eye. Far from in your face the film allows a taste of each period with a mixture of light and colourful scenes to the more prominent dreary settings it encompasses. Moonlit streets, abandoned plague ridden residential and underground gothic architectures all add to the great detail that has been taken in creating a believable and picturesque look to the films periods it contains. Helped also by a musical score that really lurks in the background, depicts the time and in some areas the feeling aptly.
The story, told with a mixture of narration from the protagonist (Brad Pitt in this case) and a screenplay with enough room for all the stars makes a tight little package. At just over 2 hours long though, this may put off the viewer looking for an all out action vampire piece or those with little patience. Interview after all is a drama at heart with horror elements but what sets it apart from others is the humane way in which it's dealt with. A point in the film that leans on stereotypical vampire views sets the tone of the film perfectly, fiction aside Vampires aren't so unlike humans which is portrayed through the emotions (or rejection of them) throughout. One of the key players in such a task is surprisingly Tom Cruise as the bad influence Lestat. In one of his more challenging roles, Cruise conveys a charm that fits the theatricals of his character perfectly. Through excellent makeup and clothes from a period he refuses to break free from, Cruise is less distinguishable but all the more better for losing the usual side of him that may have been too familiar. Left only with a look of ferocity and impertinence Cruise works his role to a brilliant combination that really brings out the character of Lestat making him extremely fun to watch. Lestat's mood swings and cruel insinuations really spark the film up, stealing every scene he's in.
What makes the film interesting is how every character has a background and each character has different things that make them tick. Along for the ride with Cruise and Pitt is a very young Kirsten Dunst as the disillusioned vampire child Claudia. It seems that Jordan is a good director for getting performances as Dunst gives a fine performance at such a young age, definitely showing more promise than the usual teenage focal points she has set herself on since. While Lestat is the most enjoyable character and practically the teacher, Louis and Claudia are the key elements to a story of self-discovery concerning the dark world they have joined. Other than this Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas share little screen time but enough to make their characters wholesome enough.
One area that I applaud but others may disclude is the vivid scenes of a gory nature used profusely throughout. Jordan, going for realism and with blood being an important part of vampire life includes graphic details.. and with no holds barred. Jordans realistic touches add only to the plausibility of the vampire way of life, emphasising the grotesque way of living they are lumbered with for eternity. Such a eternal damnation is one of the main themes of the film exploring the depreciation of Louis and Claudia and how they come to terms with their new life. It would seem that such a serious tone to a fictional tale would make it hard to enjoy but with a mixture of dark humour throughout the film knows not to take itself 'too' seriously. The end clearly establishes this fact nicely.
Minor quibbles aside like some hokey dialogue from time to time and despite Pitt underplaying his performance a little, among the Vampire genre and even as a drama this is a classy piece of work from a intelligent director with a flair for dark style (in most of his other films too), and more importantly produces a epic tale with sturdy direction. If you have the interest for a drama, specifically based around vampires there is little other choice than this. Through its fine performances and stunning look one things for sure, you wont forget this one easily.
7.5 out of 10