Movie Information

The Story: A political journalist has a disastrous interview with an actress -- one that turns into a series of head games. The Lowdown: Good performances from Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller elevate this conversational movie to something worth a look if you're in the mood for a small-scale drama.
Genre: Drama
Director: Steve Buscemi
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Sienna Miller, Michael Buscemi, Tara Elders
Rated: R

This is an odd one—and one for pretty specialized audiences. Steve Buscemi’s Interview is a remake of a 2003 Dutch movie of the same title by Theo Van Gogh. Originally, Van Gogh had been slated to do the English-language version of his own movie, but his murder in 2004 brought that idea to nothing. In part to honor Van Gogh, star Buscemi opted to step into the directorial position.

This is a curious film, because it seems less like a movie than like a theater piece devised for a couple of high-powered stage stars. Though not confined (at least entirely) to one setting and featuring a few brief bits for supporting players (including Katja Schuurman who starred in the original film), Interview is largely a two-person drama.

The two are self-important political journalist Pierre Peders (Buscemi) and low-rent actress Katya (Sienna Miller), more known for her off-screen peccadilloes than her work in cheesy horror movies and TV soaps. For reasons that only become clear later (but ought to be pretty obvious to anyone with a knowledge of newspaper dramas), Peders has been assigned the less than enticing—especially to someone with his ego—job of interviewing Katya. Since he can barely hide his contempt for his subject, the interview itself is a disaster, but something happens when Peders accepts a ride in her taxi. An accident (caused by the driver showing off that his passenger is Katya) leaves Peders with a bloodied forehead and a mild case of disorientation.

Despite the fact that she loathes the man, Katya takes him up to her loft and sees to his forehead. Soon the pair are trading barbs and inadvertently getting acquainted. Since the diversions of the film lie in what is revealed and what might be revealed in their subsequent exchanges, I’ll say very little about the nature of their conversations, except to note that games are played, confidences are exchanged (maybe) and the pair end up knowing more about each other and themselves than they did at the beginning of the evening.

It doesn’t sound like great cinema—it’s certainly not action-packed—and maybe it’s not, but it has entertaining dialogue that’s delivered with canny precision by the two stars. That might surprise no one in the case of Buscemi, but here Miller completely dispels any lingering notion that she’s just so much window dressing. Her performance isn’t far short of revelatory. It’s also an interesting role because it forces the viewer to ponder if the seemingly bubbleheaded starlets who are best known for accomplishments of the horizontal kind mightn’t be a lot cleverer than we assume (Paris Hilton notwithstanding).

Directorially, Buscemi takes advantage of the space afforded by the loft setting, moving the camera in a manner that keeps the film from being as claustrophobic as it easily could have been. It’s pretty far from being a great movie, but it’s not without its pleasures—mostly due to the performers. Rated R for language including sexual references and some drug use.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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