Interview with the Vampire
Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kristen Dunst
I remember when this movie was fist released, I had just started high school that year. Every former grunge kid, done grieving over the death of Kurt Cobain, suddenly became goth kids, knowing every inane fact about vampires and carrying around a copy of any given Anne Rice novel. Though goth style and mentality was nothing new at the time, the success of Interview with the Vampire made it almost fashionable and gave this “new blood” something to rally behind and call their own. At least until The Crow came out later in the year.
As for the movie. ;I don’t hate it; in fact I like it. Neil Jordan has always been a fine director whose work I’ve enjoyed and this film is no different. Overall, it’s moody, atmospheric and well-acted. ;It’s only major failing, which would have been the same caveat I have about the book, would be that there is no real story to this, no overarching theme to take away from it.
Christian Slater is conducting an interview with a vampire named Louis (Brad Pitt). Louis tells his life story, starting in New Orleans in 1791. Depressed and suicidal, Louis happened to meet Lestat (Tom Cruise) who transformed him into a vampire. The first chunk of the movie is about the respect Louis has for human life and his refusal to take human blood. Lestat does not approve and consistently tries to get Louis to change his mind, to “join the dark side” if you will. For what seems like forever, this same redundant dialogue goes on and on, scene after scene.
That eventually changes when Louis happens upon a poor orphan girl whose lost her mother. Feeling pity for her, Louis attempts to end her suffering and satiate his hunger – until Lestat walks in and spoils the mood. Lestat turns the little girl, Claudia (Kristen Dunst) into a vampire like them. She is frozen in time as a little girl, never able to mature to womanhood and is the most fleshed out character in the whole film. Incidentally, I think the whole eternal youth think is accurate to Kristen Dunst as its been nearly 20 years since this film and she still looks exactly the same.
As mentioned before, Tom Cruise stars as the vampire Lestat, but it’s essentially just Tom Cruise with some pancake make-up. The character gets on my nerves more-so than even Jar Jar Binks. He’s smug, arrogant and, to use Tom Cruise’s word-du-jour, he’s glib. When Lestat is finally killed off, its a relieve. All Lestat did was chew up scenery and making it impossible for any other characters or story to develop around him. With Lestat dead the movie finally has a chance to progress.
Unfortunately the story doesn’t really progress. Time passes, Louis and Claudia have their adventures and meet some other vampires. Claudia is killed by these other vampires as its forbidden in their society to transform a child into one of them. That resolved the movie just chugs along. ;The whole movie is Louis’s biography and nothing else. Its a fine tale but, like any biopic, is just a chronicle of one person’s life. I believe that a film needs to have a story, there needs to be a plot detailing a character’s resolution of conflict and the obstacles they overcome in order to achieve that goal.A chronicle of one person’s life, while recapping a few different conflicts they’ve encountered, does not make a story. There’s a reason “Biography” is a different section at the library, because these are not stories – they are just chronicles.
As such I cannot really give a favorable review to the “story” of Interview with the Vampire as there really is no story. All Interview has going for it is some good talent and atmosphere. With no true story, no overarching conflict to tie it all together, its difficult to become emotionally vested in the characters or motivated to keep watching and find out how it all turns out in the end. It’s actually a very accurate adaptation of the novel, but I’ve had these same gripes about the novel as well.
Interview with the Vampire still can be remembered for being a film that shaped my generation’s ideal of goth. It made vampires a popular topic once again – I’m confident we would not have had Twilight had there not been Interview with a Vampire first. While it’s not a bad movie, it will always hold that influential place in contemporary history.