Review by Beth Gilligan
Posted on 09 February 2007
Source 35mm print
Features: The 2007 Sundance Film Festival
The first of three planned American remakes of films by the late Dutch director Theo van Gogh, Interview is unmistakably an actors’ showcase. Directed by and starring Steve Buscemi, it often seems less like a movie than a filmed stage play, but the battle of the sexes that unfolds onscreen is compelling nonetheless. Like Bob Balaban and Stanley Tucci, the other Americans who will be tackling van Gogh’s work (Tucci is set to direct Blind Date, while Balaban will helm 06), Buscemi is primarily known as a character actor, but here he jumps into the lead role of Pierre Peters, a self-loathing journalist, with relish.
Used to covering war zones and politics, Pierre is understandably frustrated when his editor sends him to interview a spoiled young actress named Katja (played by Sienna Miller). Better known for her fluctuating bust size and laundry list of boyfriends than for her acting ability, Katja is the embodiment of a celebrity culture Pierre clearly despises. Upon meeting her, he makes no attempt to disguise this hostility, which results in a blow-up between the two that culminates with an incensed Katja storming out of the restaurant. A few minutes later, an unpredictable event lands Pierre in Katja’s spacious downtown loft, where they begin to engage in a battle of wits, with surprising consequences.
Van Gogh had a reputation as a provocateur, so it is perhaps unsurprising that both of the film’s characters are revealed as rather nasty pieces of work, through which a sly commentary on fame and journalistic ethics emerge. While Katja may prove to be more than Pierre reckoned for, at the end, her “victory” is a questionable one.
Those familiar with Sienna Miller’s off-screen exploits might be forgiven for viewing her appearance as a tabloid-friendly starlet as an example of spot-on typecasting. The role of Katja, however, turns out to be an opportunity for the actress to embrace and reject this image simultaneously. Adopting a pitch-perfect American accent, she flawlessly navigates her character’s frequent mood swings, allowing the steely calculation behind the pretty face to reveal itself gradually. Like Katja, it is Miller that emerges with the upper hand.