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   INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE (1994) 

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CAST
Tom Cruise
Brad Pitt
Kirsten Dunst
Antonio Banderas
Christian Slater
Stephen Rea
Thandie Newton

DIRECTED BY
Neil Jordan

PURCHASE


DVD




Novel




Time: 122 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama/Horror

Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Original Score.


I doubt I will ever understand the nation's fascination with Mr. Tom Cruise. He is only a passable actor with a great smile. Nothing more. As long as he plays himself, he does just fine, but he is not the sort of actor who can disappear into a role – no matter what his people tell him. This film is a prime example of how a great story is ruined by casting. Now before you think I hold a grudge against him, I'll give you three reasons why he was not right for the role of Lestat. 1) Too old. Lestat was made a vampire when he was 19-years-old. Cruise was over 30 when he made the movie and though he has kept his "boyish" good looks, no one can tell me he looks that young. 2) Lestat was an aristocratic-looking European. Even with a blond wig, and an accent, Cruise is all-american, all the way. There's nothing hoi-polloi about him. 3) Lestat was both mischievous and menacing. One bad day of PMS and I could crush Cruise where he stands. He just doesn't exude evil to me. I wasn't scared of him. Period. In the novel, despite his impish sense of humor, Lestat is not a creature to be trifled with. He is very, very dangerous.

As one can probably guess, the film is about vampires. It's an intricate and enticing tale, told by Louis (Pitt) to a young reporter (Slater). He's been wandering the world for over 150 years and he's desperate to unburden his soul. Instead of dying like he wished, Louis was made into a vampire, forced to feed on the blood of others by the vampire Lestat (Cruise), a creature far older than even he. Louis didn't ask for this "gift." He has tried to make the best of his new life, but Lestat is not the most patient and kind of teachers. They try to settle down, becoming companions of a sort, but their ideas about life and death are worlds apart. To keep the peace, Lestat "gives" Louis a daughter, turning a sick little girl named Claudia (Dunst) into one of their own. She initially brings then together, however, as time goes on her anger at being trapped for eternity as a child brings dissension into their ranks. How could Lestat have done this too her? As they move about the Earth, they meet up with other vampires, ones who contradict Lestat's version of the world. Battles are fought and lives are lost in Lestat's bid for control. In the end, all Louis is left with is his unending thirst for human blood and a guilty soul that won't let him rest.


"The world changes, we do not, there lies the irony that finally kills us."

I know plenty of people who refused to see the film because of the casting of Cruise as Lestat. I almost passed myself. However, Anne Rice created an amazing world and I really wanted to see it brought to life. Cruise isn't the best Lestat, however, I don't know any young actor out there who could have done better. His performance doesn't capture the essence of this being, but he isn't completely awful either. Now if you haven't read the book, I'm sure Tom's turn will be fine with you. Brad Pitt is dead on as Louis. There are complaints he's too whiny, but that's exactly how his character was written. Louis was not a happy vampire. He doesn't choose this life. Sure, he could end it by watching the sun rise, but not many of us would choose that option. Eternity as a creature of the night has to be better than the alternative, right? Kirsten Dunst was amazing. She truly captures the frustration and maturity of this girl who's womanhood has been taken away. Plus, she's just damn scary. There was no doubt in my mind after seeing this performance that she was going to have quite a career.

For the most part, INTERVIEW is a well-done adaptation. The mood, music and set design are everything a fan of the series could hope for. It makes you believe vampires truly exist. That one day, when you least expect it, your life will be drained away. Some liberties are taken with the story, that may be confusing for the uninitiated, but Jordan does a fairly good job bringing this lengthy novel to the screen. It's just too bad we don't get the right Lestat. It's not really his version of events – Lestat's side is told in the second book – but he does play a pivotal role. Oh well, I guess I can always reread the novel. If you want an idea of what this series is about and you don't dislike the leads, then this is a film you should see. Anne Rice is a master storyteller, when reined in, and this is one of her best. The books are better, but this version is enjoyable enough.



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