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Interview with the Vampire

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Interview with the Vampire

Starring: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt
Director: Neil Jordan
Rated: R
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: November 1994
Genres: Horror, Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea, Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst, Domiziana Giordano, Thandie Newton, Indra Ove

Review by AlexI
3½ stars out of 4

Vampire films, as well as other horror films, are usually dumb and predictable B-movies, meant to scare us by cliches and simple shocks. It is therefore interesting to watch Neil Jordans recent film that is not only visually stunning, but has also a plot worth making movies about.

Based on Anne Rice's novel, "Interview with a Vampire" is a long, dark trip to hell.

The film opens with gothic quire and dark streets of present-day San Francisco. The camera slowly find particular window. A shape of a young man is visible in the darkness. "So you want me to tell you the story of my life?". The mysterious man is Louis (Brad Pitt), a two-century old vampire, telling his story to a fascinated interviewer (Christian Slater). His tale opens in 1791 Louisiana, just south of New Orleans, where Louis falls victim to the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise). Given a choice between death and eternal life as one of the undead, Louis chooses the latter, a decision he will forever regret. Everlasting life and eternal youth, promised to him by Lestat, turn instead into never ending suffering, damned to eternal hunger for blood and longing for peace.

Louis cannot kill with the impunity of Lestat, but, to sate his hunger, he must feed, and the blood of animals is not enough. Eventually, he pierces the neck of a grief-stricken young girl named Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), whom Lestat then curses with his unholy form of resurrection so that she can be a surrogate daughter to both himself and Louis. For a while, they are one "big, happy family." But all things end, and Claudia's growing resentment of Lestat fuels a bloody confrontation. When Luis and Claudia break loose from Lestat, they travel to Paris, where the Euro-vamps Santiago (Stephen Rea) and Armand (Antonio Banderas ), who introduced them to a bigger world of the damned.

Director Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game") together with the talented director of cinematography Philippe Rousselot and composer Elliot Goldenthal has created an incredible atmosphere. As the film begins, there is an incredible palette of colors, beautiful sunrises, lush golden fields, green forests, inky-blue clouds and blending sun. When Luis is "born to darkness", everything suddenly changes to dark velvet, lit only by the silver moonlight. The beautiful production design by Dante Ferretti , wonderful costumes and art direction by Malcolm Middleton re-create the multiple historical periods in the film. From the renaissance New Orleans and the beautiful rococo Paris of the 18th century, to our present days.

The casting is likewise good, involving some of the most famous and beautiful stars of Hollywood, Ireland and Spain. The controversial casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat is incredibly effective. Cruise is energetic, sinister, charismatic, wild and bloodthirsty. Cruise's Lestat likes to seduce young women before exacting his dark red sustenance. With alarming swiftness, the victims switch from sexual excitement to outright horror, as his murderous purpose becomes clear. "...Kill them mercifully, but do it. You are what you are..for do not doubt, you are a killer!" That is how Lestat is teaching Luis. But behind that furious facade is anger and loneliness that he carries through the centuries and tries to smother with nightly rampages. Brad Pitt is equally convincing as the "vampire with a human soul". Antonio Banderas and Stephen Rea are effective, but since they play more or less secondary characters, their performances are almost invisible. The greatest performance in the film comes suprisingly from the young Kristen Dunst, who manages to create an incredibly emotional and believable character. The world is changing around the little child, but she does not. She remains unchangeable - a child for all eternity. Only her wise, dark eyes reveal her age.

Ironically the film's only miss is the script. Anne Rice's novel is a very interesting read, and her script is rich, colorful and emotional, but it is also tiering and too melancholic, at times resembling a soap opera:

Claudia: "....Is that what I should do? Let you father, my Luis, who made me...Who will look after me, my dark angel, when you are gone?"

Luis: "Everything will be alright.."

Claudia: "Do you really believe that?"

And then they hug emotionally. Moments like those displayed above and Luis' self-pity is a bit tiresome.

However Rice's script is otherwise strong and well structured, bringing up humor and comic episodes, that were more or less hidden in the book. When Lestat finds Claudia's dead dressmaker, whom she has killed, he cries out: "Who will make you that dress now? Be a little practical....Never in the house !" Moments like that are both entertaining and appealing.

Neil Jordan's direction is beautiful and sensual as he plays with interesting issues like eternity, homosexuality, love and loneliness. His gothic saga is not meant to scare, but to display these issues differently. Wrapped up in mystery, his new, original picture brings vampire-films to a new height.

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