INTERVIEW, with its two unlikable protagonists—a weaselly, unethical journalist and a spoiled actress/tabloid tease, going at each other cat-mouse fashion —is a no-thanks situation for many, but others will find the who’ll-get-what? curiosity factor and the acting from the two polar-contrast leads worth an 86-minute peek. It might help to be in a everyone-sucks mood.
Political correspondent ‘Pierre Peders’ (Steve Buscemi) is pre-pissed before he gets to his interview date with popular actress ‘Katya’ (Sienna Miller), since his editor axed him from covering a breaking story at the White House and instead pawned him off for a puff piece on a lightweight paparazzi fave. The two spark instant dislike, each disdainful of the others line of work and put off by their basic personalities. When the setting shifts from a restaurant to the privacy and intimacy of Katya’s loft apartment, their ‘Who are You & What do You Want’ contest shifts back & forth between rapier-cut fencing to battle-axe cleaving. With some drinks—always a surefire way to breathe on a lit fuse….
A pet project for Buscemi, he directed and co-wrote the 2007 acid-dipped appetizer as an American version of the 2003 Netherlands film of the same title, made by Theo van Gogh. The Dutch director had been murdered a year later by a Muslim extremist angered by one of his movies. Van Gogh had planned to remake the movie in English with Miller and Buscemi, so the New York City set version ended up as Buscemi’s homage. Some critics dinged it as a vanity project, which I think is unfair, and a good number could not see beyond Miller’s then-perceived social image to credit her with much acting ability. In the first instance, it might have been a better choice to have someone other than himself play the lead (would you trust Steve Buscemi? you might as well have Peter Lorre as babysitter), and just stick to the adaptation and directing. Those who knocked Miller, however, couldn’t have been further off base: she hits a home run, beautifully nailing every strength and weakness of her tough-sell character.
Buscemi used the cinematographer (Thomas Kist) from the earlier film, who does excellent work covering the intimate battle royale, and the apartment set is so well outfitted and employed that it’s practically a third characte. The other acting parts are just bits, featuring David Schechter (co-writer of the script) as a maître d’, and the original film’s lead actress, Katja Schuurman, quickly glimpsed exiting a car at the table-turns finish. Cool choice of a song to play over the end credits, “Boy Like a Timebomb”, by Noonday Underground. Box office gross, worldwide, was $1,470,000.