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Movie Review: Buscemi’s Interview Hits Paydirt

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With all his experience in independent film and his reputation of finding really interesting projects, Steve Buscemi has taken the next step by writing and directing his own film, an adaptation of Theodor Holman and Theo Van Gogh’s Interview.

Critiquing the give and take of celebrity journalism, Buscemi, who must have experienced similar situations first hand, guides the viewer through what should have been a quick interview. The film doesn’t openly attack the proliferation of celebrity news or gossip, but it heralds a warning that the facts acquired from such interviews are always manipulated by either the interviewer or the subject.

Pierre, played by Buscemi, is a political journalist who gets called in from the field to write an entertainment piece about Katya, the flavor of the month tabloid queen, played by Sienna Miller. Pierre is annoyed that he has been put on an unimportant assignment and when Katya is late for the interview, the questions he asks her are all condescending and their discussion ends abruptly. While pulling into traffic, Pierre’s cab rear ends a truck because the driver is distracted by Katya, who then feels “almost responsible” for his injuries and invites him to her loft. So, their discussion restarts and what begins as sugar-coated pabulum slowly evolves into a two-way personal investigation.

Buscemi’s performance as the uptight and at times desperate reporter is very good, even though Pierre seems ordinary compared to the weirdos he normally plays. What he is great at is being able to dive into a character fully and show their conflicting impulses. For example, Pierre’s desperation is hidden behind charm in the hopes that Katya may offer him a nugget of gossip which he could turn into a scoop.

The really great part of the film is that Buscemi’s performance is pretty well matched by Sienna Miller’s performance as the seemingly vapid, self-interested actress. We can also see that Miller has infused the character with her own disdain for the paparazzo. As Katya’s personality is explored, she develops into quite a complex character and Miller doesn’t miss a step.

Where the film is at its weakest is during the introduction, where the characters haven’t been defined and it’s hard to watch because they come off as such terrible people, and during the big reveal at the end. But even though the mechanics of the ending are a little sketchy, the meaning is clearly shown and is fitting.

The evolution of the characters is the meat of this movie and there is a feast here. Both characters, though vastly different, work in industries that thrive on wits and outright lying. Buscemi succeeds in adapting Interview, retaining some points from the original and mapping out a few new twists of his own. This film was enjoyable and even a little thought-provoking, so catch it in theaters or in a few weeks rent it.

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