MOVIE REVIEW by Willard Manus
Theo van Gogh, great grandson of Vincent's brother Theo, is the Dutch filmmaker who was brutally murdered in Amsterdam by a Muslim thug who took exception to the way his documentary Submission exposed Islam's intolerant treatment of women. van Gogh was also a TV personality, newspaper columnist and director. Now one of his highly regarded films, INTERVIEW (2003), has been turned into an English-language feature by Steve Buscemi, one of the stalwarts of the independent movie scene.
Buscemi, serving as co-writer, director and actor, has done van Gogh proud with his Americanized version of INTERVIEW. Working with van Gogh's longtime crew, led by cinematographer Thomas Kist, Buscemei shot the film in much the same manner as van Gogh's original--by keeping three digital cameras running at all times, with one camera trained on each of the two main characters and another camera capturing middle and master shots. It's a fast, efficient yet intimate way of shooting a low-budget film, one that is well-suited to a character-driven story like INTERVIEW.
As adapted by Buscemi (and David Schecter), INTERVIEW deals with the embattled, sexually-charged relationship between a downwardly-mobile journalist, Pierre (Buscemi), and a TV soap-opera star, Katya (Sienna Miller). Pierre normally writes about politics, a world far removed from Katya's pop culture eminence, but he's been assigned to interview her for a major magazine.
The two meet at a restaurant and dislike each other from the gitgo. Their love-hate, clashing-worlds relationship evolves over the course of a long night of talking, drinking and bickering at her loft. The dialogue is snappy, vivid and tough; the peeling back of character, relentless and complex, with dark, long-buried secrets emerging and changing the way they feel about each other. But just as these two wary, wounded people seem to have forged an honest, truthful bond, Buscemi resorts to a trick ending which cheapens and trivalizes all that's gone before it.
Tis a pity, because there's much to admire about INTERVIEW--the vivid acting by Buscemi and Miller, the look, feel and energy of the story. Disappointed as I ultimately was by INTERVIEW, I'm still looking forward to the next two adaptations of van Gogh's related films, part of his "Triple Theo" trilogy: Blind Date, directed by Stanley Tucci; and '06, directed by John Turturro.
Thanks to Buscemei, Tucci and Turturro, van Gogh's unique vision of life has been given new life.