Monday, March 17, 2008

Interview, or On Mediocre Theatre

Interview takes pains to be contemporary, but nothing quite sticks: words like "Google" and "iPod", rather than hiding subtly within the script as a dating device, jump out incongruously. And the thing is that, apart from these efforts, all the pic's commentary would be much more relevant fifteen years ago.

The cultish celebrity-worship embodied by Miller just doesn't ring true nowadays: we have Myspace and Youtube and celebrity blogging now. The world depicted in Interview is not irrelevant per se, but at odds with the celebrity 2.0 of 2008. Interview's world would have no place for a Chris Crocker or a Fall Out Boy.

The closest our world has to the rarefied stardom of Sienna Miller's character is, well, Sienna Miller - but even she made her name with actual movies, rather than the bizarre b-slasher trajectory her character is given. It's an unwieldy setup, and one that the movie will spend much of its runtime trying to justify.

While its cultural clout may be somewhat less than Interview imagines, the interpersonal meat of the story has some measure of theatrical heft to it that we may not see the likes of again this year. But this is no Tape or Hurlyburly: while Buscemi and Miller take their characters as far as they can with the plot's gnarled machinations, the fact is this just doesn't move or talk like the forebears whose company it would join.

It's not the sin of unbelievable Hollywood excess but the other extreme: these are frustratingly unfocused and ineloquent people, just like you meet every day. But we don't go to movies about those people.

Interview's characters are many things: frustrating, warm, fascinating and confounding. But unlike real people, these end up chained to a plot that wants to be ingenious but ends up just kind of smarmy.

[originally appeared on Flicks]

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