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Interview (2007)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 12/11/2007

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/11/2007

I believe that most people would agree that films and stage plays are very different entertainment mediums. Taking this further, there are people who love movies and hate the stage, and vice-versa. And yet, the two are intrinsically linked. For centuries, stage plays were the only way for an audience to see a story acted out by a group of thespians. This eventually gave way to movies, yet the two still perform the same basic purpose. The separation of the two often comes together, such as in the film Interview, which is a movie that could easily be adapted into a play.

Interview explores one night in the lives of two very different people. Pierre Peders (Steve Buscemi) is a reporter for Newsworld magazine who usually covers intense political stories. Katya (Sienna Miller) is an actress who is known for her TV show, her appearances in slasher films and her turbulent romances. Despite his protests, Pierre is assigned to interview Katya and he arranges to meet her at a restaurant in New York City. She arrives an hour late, which Pierre finds highly disrespectful and thus, this sets the tone for the interview. Pierre is honest about the fact that he doesn't know anything about Katya or her work, and he doesn't hide the fact that he doesn't want to be there. The uppity Katya doesn't need very much to push her, and after a few minutes, she decides to leave. Once outside, Pierre gets into a cab to go home. The cab driver spots Katya and begins flirting with her. This leads to a fender-bender in which Pierre suffers a bleeding bump on his head. Seeing this, Katya takes Pierre to her nearby apartment.

Pierre is very surprised by Katya's hospitality, but he sees this as an opportunity to actually complete the interview. So, he begins to ask her probing questions. Surprisingly, Katya begins to open up to him. She also begins to openly flirt with Pierre. As the two talk over drinks, they become more and more honest with each other, which leads to a battle of wills and wits -- who will succumb to the others advances and attacks.

Interview is a remake of a film from slain Dutch director Theo Van Gogh. Director/co-writer Steve Buscemi has been given the task of taking Van Gogh's original 2003 film and adapting the film for America. In the original, the two main characters were played by an actress named Katya and a journalist named Pierre. For this remake, Buscemi has cast an actress who bears more than a passing resemblance to her character, as there are people who don't know Miller's work, but they've seen her name in the tabloids. This art imitates life aesthetic only helps Buscemi with his underlying theme of the way in which the media distorts (or creates) reality in our society.

Save for the opening scene and a brief shot at the end, Interview consists solely of Pierre and Katya verbally sparring in her (rather large) apartment. Thus, this movie could have easily been a play. While watching the film, it's very easy to imagine two actors stalking the stage, chewing this dialogue. But, a play wouldn't have the claustrophobic feel which a film can bring, and this ins one of the elements which leads Interview to be a film which is challenging to watch.

I haven't seen the original version of Interview, so I can't comment on it, but Buscemi's work is an exercise in making the audience uncomfortable. The movie opens with two people who immediately don't like each other being forced into a conversation, and from there, we watch them interact for 80 minutes. If they maintained a mild level of disdain for one another, that may have been tolerable, but these two instantly go at it, both mentally and physically. Katya attempts to use her sexuality against Pierre, while he assumes that he's smarter than her and attacks her intellectually. The two share secrets with one another and say some very risky things, but the film is reluctant to let us know who is telling the truth. When their sparring turns into a true argument, the movie gets very tense.

Which begs the question, Is that entertaining? I would recommend watching Interview in small doses, as the intense level of animosity exhibited by these characters can be difficult to watch. However, some may not want to watch it all. Neither character is very likable and it's difficult to muster any sympathy for either of them. The story does feature a nice twist ending.

So, Buscemi has created a double-edged sword here. The movie works in the sense that it features two very intense characters have a no-holds barred night of mental battle, and this experience will create a very real response in most viewers. However, these same viewers may be turned off by the whole thing and some won't be able to get past the fact that a movie star would invite a lowly reporter to their apartment. If you're a fan of European cinema and don't mind a film which is full of exposed nerves, then you may want to give Interview a try.

Interview asks many pointed questions of DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The film was shot on HD and the image looks very clear. The picture shows no overt grain or defects from the source material. The image is quite sharp, offering a nicely detailed picture. The colors are somewhat subdued, but they look fine. I didn't detect any video noise or artifacting on the transfer. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provide clear dialogue and sound effects. It's that dialogue which is the most important thing here, and it's always intelligible. The restaurant and street scenes provide some mild surround sound effects.

The Interview DVD has three extra features. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY by Steve Buscemi, who, despite some silent spots, speaks at length throughout the film. This is a somewhat slow-paced talk (which isn't surprising given the tone of the film). He talks about the original film and how it was adapted for this remake, working with Sienna Miller, how the film was shot, and some of the decisions made in the story. "Interview: Behind-the-scenes" (7 minutes) contains comments from Buscemi, Miller and co-screenwriter David Schechter, rehearsal footage, and on-set footage. We get some info about the development of the script and the characters, as well as location scouting. "Triple Theo, Take One" (14 minutes) is a discussion with Buscemi and the film's producers, who had wanted to remake some of Theo Van Gogh's original Dutch films. They had three to choose from and Interview was chosen for the project. We get comments from Katja Schuurman, who was the star of the original films. We see how a multi-camera system was used to make the film.

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long