The love-hate dynamic of press vs. celebrity gets taken to bizarre extremes in Interview, a passionate but wobbly remake of a little-seen work by the late Dutch provocateur Theo Van Gogh. The domestic version has been affectionately adapted and directed by the brilliant Steve Buscemi, who also stars as a morose, intently serious journalist with the silly name Pierre Peders. Banished for undisclosed sins by his editors from his prized political beat, Pierre is forced into a sit-down with the fetching Katya (Sienna Miller), a sexbomb-of-the-moment on trashy TV and in movies.
He's thoroughly disgusted to be wasting his talents on such fluff, and she's aghast to be talking to a nasty little parasite who knows little about her and who hasn't been indoctrinated into her cult of personality. Their meeting at a posh diner starts off as a complete disaster, but eventually, after changing venues to her apartment, and raiding the liquor cabinet, sparks start to fly. These antagonistic strangers begin opening up; then come shocking revelations and freaky twists that amount to a series of feints and taunts but nothing like actual catharsis that such intimate theatrical pieces are made for. They bicker and flirt, fight and even make out, all the while hashing out some perverse, deeply personal surrogate father-daughter conflict that boils over multiple times, and leads to some appalling behavior. The verbal fireworks get acidic and sometimes downright hostile, but they lack the social sexual insight of, say, David Mamet. While Interview is intermittently fascinating, it's never entirely believable.
Who says an established reporter would never be given an assignment this far out of his wheelhouse? When would a big-name starlet freely give a real reporter, not an entertainment "writer," so much ammo? Yeah, the film gets a couple things wrong. And each time we start to believe in these people, or start wanting to like them, something weird happens, and we're reminded that this is an indictment, a cultural comment not a character study.
Showing at the Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.