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Interview With the Vampire

Interview With the Vampire

What She said:

She

Ahhh, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in their prime.  To think that they actually made a movie together—I don’t know how Interview with the Vampire performed in the theaters, but I have to think that a lot of women went to see this movie.  And what’s this?  Christian Slater is also in the film?  Talk about a recipe for commercial success.  Who even cares what it’s about?  Interview with the Vampire is filled with brooding looks and men dashing around biting their victims, but the biggest shocker for me with this movie is that it’s actually decent.  The film tells an interesting story and the characters actually have emotion and suffering.

Initially set in New Orleans, the movie follows the character of Louis, an extremely depressed man who has lost his wife and daughter.  He does not have much motivation for living.  And this is picked up on by another fella, Lestat.  Lestat has an immediate attraction to Louis, and decides to bring him into his dark world.  You see, Lestat is a vampire with a deathly appetite.  He not only feeds on Louis, but turns him into one of his own.  Interestingly, there do not appear to be a lot of vampires in New Orleans.  In fact, we do not encounter any others until Lestat and Louis create a daughter, Claudia.  To find any other vampires beyond their little family, Louis must travel to Europe, where he does encounter a larger, more lethal contingent.

The Way Way Back

The film follows the family dynamic between Louis, Lestat, and Claudia, and it is definitely strained, to say the least.  There’s animosity between Lestat and Louis, because frankly, Louis has a conscience and doesn’t like killing people to feed.  It’s a humorous point that he survives feeding on rats and dogs.  Ultimately, he has to come to terms with what he is, as vampires never die and he will need to kill others to stay replenished.  The addition of Claudia adds another layer of depth to the storyline.  Claudia was an orphan who had no life ahead of her, and once vampirized becomes an entitled, spoiled little girl.  BUT, she remains trapped in the body of a youth, despite the fact that she mentally ages.  So she struggles to deal with this fact while also harboring a good amount of resentment, particularly toward Lestat, for his having created her.  There also seems to be some jealousy between Claudia and Lestat over Louis.  Both of them feel possessive of him, and are competing for his attention.  Oh, to be Louis and to have the burden of everyone wanting to be your friend.

There comes a point in the film where Lestat exits the picture and Louis and Claudia travel overseas.  There, they encounter new vampires, including Armand, played by Antonio Banderas (more for the ladies).  Again, Louis is courted by a vampire who wants to become close to him.  This is actually difficult for Louis to handle throughout the film because he seems to be trying his best to live a normal, non-vampire life.  Ultimately, Louis finds himself alone, which may be what fits him best, and that is how we are introduced to him at the beginning of the film and how we meet him again at the end of it.  I should clarify Christian Slater’s role in Interview with the Vampire.  Slater plays Malloy, a biographer who is interviewing Louis in the present day.  So, the movie really is a story within a story.  The modern day Louis is telling Malloy about his journey as a vampire over the previous two centuries.  

The actors in this film are not all about looks—they have the chops to match their stature as sex symbols.  Everyone, including Kirsten Dunst as Claudia, are exceptional in their roles.  They really inject a lot of emotion into their characters, and it is their depictions of these vampires that really drives the story.  I was very impressed with everyone all around.  It’s just a reminder that both Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise really are good actors and not just pretty faces.

The Way Way Back

There are some pretty intense themes in this film—including the power of immortality, family, death, and incest.  I say incest because there is a definite father/daughter relationship between Louis and Claudia, but there’s also a hit of something more.  Claudia clearly adores Louis for more than his just being a father.  There’s a lot of ambiguity with the relationships in this film.  It’s also not altogether clear what is going on between Louis and Lestat and Louis and Armand.  It adds further depth to the story and complexity to the dynamic of these characters.  If you’re not really into overanalyzing these types of things, you can totally take these interactions at face value and not assign any further meaning.  It’s certainly up to you.

I love the cinematography of this film.  It feels authentic and is very dark, of course, because most of this is set at night.  The way the movie is filmed adds to the drama of the plot and helps to enhance the scenes depicted on screen.  The moviemakers did a good job of considering this film as a whole, and not just focusing in on one element.  Every aspect of the film feels like it goes together, and they all culminate to make the movie work.  Yes, the movie may feel a little slow around its middle plotwise, but it lumbers along and makes it through intact.  That’s really my only gripe.  If you can hang in there and get past the chubby center of this film, it’s definitely worth your time. Plus, there is a fun surprise ending that I found both entertaining and a little comical.

Thumbs up.  

 

What He said:

He

Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) is a writer who has recently been approached by a man named Louis de Pointe du Lac (that’s the last time I’m going to say that). Louis says he has a story he wants to share. Well it turns out that is exactly what Daniel does. He talks to people, records their story, and tells it to the world.  

Louis (Brad Pitt) claims to be a vampire. Yup, he just comes right out and says it. He doesn’t dance around it, subtly hint at it, or anything like that. Malloy of course does not believe him, but he tells people’s stories and true or not this has the makings of a good one.

Louis decides to begin his story with origin of his vampire roots rather when he was born, because a vampire is what has been for 200 years now. That’s who he is at this point in his long life. It is 1791 and Louis is only 24, but times were different then. He was already a rich plantation owner, a husband, and a father. Unfortunately, his wife and child died during childbirth.  This has left him extremely depressed and with a death wish. He’s drinks himself silly and invites violence on a daily basis in hopes of being put out of his misery.  

The Way Way Back

Louis’ behavior grabs the attention of Lestat de Lioncourt (last time I’m saying that too). Lestat (Tom Cruise) is a lonely vampire who is fascinated and/or attracted to Louis’ obsession with dying. He attacks the young man and says he will kill him if he wishes, but offers him a choice to leave his old life behind, begin a new one at Lestat’s side, and live forever. I guess being on the brink of death tends to give one a wakeup call, because Louis agrees to accept Lestat’s offer to become a vampire.  You have to wonder what makes Louis change his mind, because he’s not really happy as a vampire either; but more on that later.

So, Lestat transforms Louis and the two of them live on Louis’ plantation. Louis is having a lot of trouble adjusting to his new life. The bottom line is he does not want to kill anyone and that sort of goes with the territory. He begins feeding on rats and some of the animals around the farm. Between that and him turning away normal food every night, his slaves begin to notice something is wrong. They begin to suspect their master is the Devil. 

Things finally reach a boiling point. First, the slaves begin to perform some kind of VooDoo rituals in an attempt to get rid of Louis. Right around the same time, Louis decides he can’t live like this anymore. He marches out to the slaves – who seem like they were about to set his house on fire – and tells them to run for their lives. He says the house is cursed, he is indeed the Devil, and they should get away while they can. He also grabs one of their torches, goes back inside, and sets the house on fire. He plans to go up in flames with his home, but Lestat returns – he left because of a fight the two had – and rescues Louis.

Though the two really don’t seem to get along most of the time, Lestat does not want Louis to leave him, so he turns a young girl (Kirsten Dunst) into a vampire in hopes that his fatherly instincts kick in. Lestat might be a monster, but he’s not blind. He knows Louis longs for his old life. Boy is he going to regret that decision too. Though Louis and Claudia love one another very much, Lestat and her are constantly at one another’s throats. Part of it is that they seem to be jealous of one another when it comes to Louis. Claudia also grows to hate Lestat for turning her. You see, she might be immortal, but she’s also stuck in a child’s body for eternity. She has the body of a child, but the mind of somebody several decades older. This leads to Louis and Claudia parting ways with Lestat.

The two of them leave the states for Paris. They happier without Lestat, but the two of them have an internal sadness that will never totally go away. Claudia loves Louis, but can never be with him because she’s in the body of a child. She has lived for decades, but will only ever experience the life of a child. She can never be with Louis in the way she wants to be. Louis never really got over the loss of his family. He regrets his choice to become a vampire, but is also intrigued by it oddly enough. He wants to know more about where they come from. Are there more of his kind out there? Who was the first one? Stuff like that.

The Way Way Back

This is where Armand and his troupe of vampires come in. Armand (Antonio Banderas) is the owner of a theater in which he and his followers pose a actors playing vampires in a series of skits on stage. Armand is very attracted to Louis and wants to steal him away from Claudia. Whew, that Louis isn’t popular isn’t he? Armand’s followers want no parts of Louis or Claudia. This leads to a little bit of drama between the differing parties.

That’s really where I have to start. Drama, drama, drama. That’s what this movie is full of. In today’s age of very sappy and poorly acted vampire movies and TV shows, I can already feel the eye rolls coming. But if you’ve see this movie, you know that isn’t the case at all. This is an example of something that has the same exact qualities as crap like that, but is actually written very well and has the strong performances to back it up.

Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Kirsten Dunst are all stellar. Tom Cruise might be nuts, but the guy can act. He is very dedicated and intense. Lestat is a complex character. He’s not just a vampire, he’s kind of sadistic about the whole thing. He enjoys playing with his food. Sometimes it is quite cruel – which is part of the issues Louis has with him – and others it’s really funny. Regardless of the emotions he is supposed to be portraying, Cruise delivers. Brad Pitt is fantastic as the somber, depressed, and kind hearted Louis. The guy never really recuperates from the loss of his wife and child. He tries to replace them with Claudia and does grown to genuinely care about her, but it never erases the pain. He loves Claudia deeply, is intrigued by Armand’s offer, but seems content being alone. He might be one of my favorite actors. He’s so damn versatile and convincing. Kirsten Dunst was phenomenal as the bratty, sadistic, and strangely sympathetic Claudia. It’s quite a powerful performance period, let alone from a child.  

This movie is also loaded with a lot of layers and themes. First, you’ve got Lestat, who is pretty much a monster. Not only is he a killer, but he enjoys it. Even when Louis begins feeding to people, he never relishes in it the way Lestat does. Lestat actually enjoys toying with and killing people, so-much-so he seems to loath humans. Yet he still longs to be like them. He longs for companionship and is obsessed with keeping up this wealthy, aristocratic, and important appearance. He has a very contradictory existence.  The relationship between him and Louis is never totally clarified. It can be interpreted in a few different ways. Does he just want a friend or is there something deeper going on between them? Either way, it’s never fully confirmed and I actually like that. The ambiguity works well in this case. The same goes for Louis and his potential relationship with Armand. Armand doesn’t hide the fact that he wants Louis as his lover, but Louis never acted that way with Lestat, and seemingly wasn’t bi/gay prior to becoming a vampire. It almost seems as if the longer these creatures live, the more accepting of companionship – from anyone – they become. It happens with Claudia and Louis as well. It is very clearly a father/daughter relationship at first, but becomes more than that the longer they are together. Emotionally at least, because they never act on anything given the fact that she remains child forever.

I also have to point out how funny this movie is as well. This movie is on TV quite a bit, but I haven’t seen the whole thing in years. When I did finally watch it from start-to-finish recently, I noticed how much dark humor is in it. Tom Cruise was particularly amusing.

I always thought this was an excellent movie. It’s got some great drama and storytelling, a little bit of action and gore, and even some laughs too.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on November 1, 2013.

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