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INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, 1994
Movie Review

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INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE,  MOVIE POSTERINTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, 1994
Movie Reviews

Directed by Neil Jordan
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst, Stephen Rea, Thandie Newton, Bellina Logan
Review by Surinder Singh


SYNOPSIS:

Journalist Daniel Malloy (Christian Slater) meets with a mysterious man called Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) who reveals the story of his life as a vampire and of the vampire who turned him…Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise).

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REVIEW:

When you look at the stellar cast for this movie you almost can’t believe it’s real! Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas are all major Hollywood players. Sometimes movies with so many notable names can be a disappointment due to the hype that brews before its release, however this movie does not disappoint and is perhaps Neil Jordan’s most accomplished movie to date. The movie is filled with so many classic scenes and warrants multiple viewings like all great movies do!

The structure of the movie is well crafted; we (and Malloy) are saved all the tedious parts of Louis’ life story only being told the interesting parts. It brings to mind Hitchcock’s famous description of good drama: “Life with all the boring parts taken out!” First Louis explains the truth about “real vampires” down playing the myths about crosses etc. Pitt is magnificent here as he shows what a talented actor he is. People always fixate on his roles in Fight Club, Seven and Twelve Monkeys overlooking this performance. Pitt bravely shelves his beautiful man image for a look that makes him a walking corpse. He’s macabre, pale, sickly and yet still wonderfully charismatic. He brings us into the movie making the world of vampires so frequently visited by movies appealing once more!

Tom Cruise eventually makes his entrance as Louis recounts his last days as a mortal man. It’s a well-known fact that the novel’s author Anne Rice was less than impressed with Cruise playing the role of Lestat. But on seeing the final film, Cruise’s breathtaking portrayal of the character soon changed her mind. It takes a highly skilled actor to show the creator a new vision of his or her own character while still being true to the spirit of the novel. Cruise stalks or cruises (depending on your point of view) Louis from the shadows as he invites an angry gambler to kill him. A grieving man, alone and without fear of death clearly strikes Lestat’s fancy. Perched on the balcony ready to pounce; Cruise taps his sharpened fingernails as if they were claws – it’s a striking image of fantasy art.

The whole set up before Cruise actually bites Pitt has been compared to ‘cruising’ in gay culture. Jordan has skillfully woven in these themes subtly and let the audience opinion take it further. It’s questionable as to what exactly Jordan is saying about the relationship between homosexuality and vampires but in the nineties it provided a fresh slant to the vampire movie. One could also argue that after Louis is bitten, he and Lestat are a couple. They live together in a house and when they come across the plague ridden Claudia (Dunst) she becomes an adopted daughter; essentially they are a family! The suggestion of a gay partnership is hinted at but doesn’t become a central theme. This is the reason why the film demands multiple viewings, it has many different threads running through it and it’s hard to take it all in one sitting.

The scenes showing Cruise and Pitt in playboy mode looking for potential victims is fiendishly entertaining. While drinking blood is essential to their survival, Lestat seems to choose to kill the aged widow along with her young toy boy out of a strange duty to society. Lestat explains to Louis how he can read thoughts, that the widow and her toy boy have killed her husband for his money. We pity the previous victims of Lestat and Louis but when the widow and her toy boy are killed there is a sense of justice being served. Pitt does a great job of playing the inexperienced vampire who reluctantly tries to bite the widow but gets himself into a fix with her dogs! Cruise on the other hand quite brilliantly shows how feeding is not just a necessity to Lestat but actually a sport!

Then, when Louis and Claudia conspire against Lestat things start to get deadly! While Cruise plays the proud vampire, Pitt and Dunst are vampires that are struggling deeply with their immortality. It isn’t as ideal as Lestat had promised them. Claudia will never experience womanhood and Louis must remain a prisoner in his living hell forever. This heightens the resent they feel for Lestat which is brilliantly captured in a series of episodes where they plot to destroy him. Cruise is brilliant as the archetypical monster that refuses to be killed no matter how many horrific acts of violence are bestowed upon him. By now we are rooting for Pitt’s character, who even after becoming a vampire still has his humanity and unconditional love for his child Claudia. We hope there may be an escape for him and Claudia.

Tragedy arrives when, after escaping Lestat and Claudia’s fatal exposure to sunlight; Louis is yet again all alone. Only now Louis is not a broken, grieving man, quite the opposite, as we return back to the hotel room in the present we see that Louis is at one with himself. Malloy is now begging to be bitten by him so he too can experience life as a vampire. But Pitt presents a character who is perhaps one of the few vampires in this world that refuses to bite and turn a human… and after hearing his story we understand why. But as honorable as this is, one feels slightly let down by a vampire who won’t bite! Thankfully, we are saved at the last moment by Cruise’s unsinkable rogue who is happy to oblige Malloy like he did Louis! The truth is that vampirism, while being a terrible curse, is lots of fun too!

Interview With A Vampire is a seminal film in a genre that has very recently been flooded with many versions of the vampire movie and yet still stands out as one of the best!

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