Interview With The Vampire (1994), or Dark Reverie

24 08 2009

Bren decided that I needed to watch this movie, if you’ve seen the recent comments. Everyone knows that Bren is a huge Anne Rice fan; I’m not sure, but I think she has a tattoo of Lestat on her right eyeball so when she looks at me from certain angles, she can pretend I’m a vampire. Vampires are kind of a big deal around our house, especially sexy, steamy, unusually handsome French Quarter vampires, and none is more celebrated than the big man himself, Lestat. He’s dreamy, kind of a jerk, and totally delicious for a corpse. It’s every woman’s fantasy for some reason to get it on with a vampire, because apparently living dudes aren’t nearly as sexy, and Anne Rice figured this out in the year of our Lord 1976, when she wrote Interview with the Vampire. This steamy tale of blood-drinking, 18th century New Orleans carousing, and hunky undead dudes has been doling out lady boners since Carter was in office, and in 1994 her Vampire Chronicles series had reached a fever pitch, and a movie came out as a result. It had two of the biggest young actors in Hollywood as the leads and a script that was potent, to say the least. And while I won’t say that it is the best movie of all time, Interview with the Vampire is a well-choreographed semi-period piece that puts Twilight to glittery, sparkly shame.

In the 90s, some guy named Malloy is interviewing a man who claims to be a vampire. He is, of course, skeptical at first, but the man, named Louis, has a very convincing story to tell. He tells him about his beginnings in Louisiana in 1791. He was turned by a very flamboyant bon vivant vampire named Lestat who rather fancied the sad young man after he lost his wife and daughter. The two form a rather odd relationship over the years as Lestat teaches Louis how to live as a vampire. Louis despises having to attack humans and at first tries to survive on animal blood, but finds he cannot and is driven to kill his housemaid and attack a young girl. Lestat sees that the young girl could be put to good use as something to assuage Louis’s damaged heart and bend him to his teachings, so he turns the young orphan, named Claudia, into a vampire. Louis takes a liking to the girl, but grows increasingly detached from Lestat and his inhumane treatment of his human victims. The two butt heads more and more,until a breaking point is reached and he can stand no more. What will become of these two strange, battered souls and their twisted relationship throughout the infinite recesses of immortality?

It’s actually quite good, despite any misgivings you might have about Anne Rice. The story is solid; a Louisianian dandy walks around being conflicted and staving off sexual overtones from his friend and teacher Lestat. Sounds strange, but with a great cast and a director who knows homosexual overtones, this one soars right from the start.

Brad Pitt shows off his early dramatic flair, back before he was just “that guy with all the adopted kids”. He plays Louis like a character from Shakespeare, though not nearly as formed. He is instead an embodiment of regret. He regrets his life as a human, and he deeply regrets his life as a vampire. Doomed to be an outcast, he is bound to Lestat through that curious way that all polar opposites become bound to one another. And Lestat is another rare instance of Tom Cruise earning his keep. Cruise plays with such a disdain with humanity that he must have carried some of that home with him as we can see in his fervent Scientology fanaticism. He IS Lestat; the beautiful, vivacious young man with a thirst for excitement. Both leads not only give a lot to the proceedings, but they seem to respect the material with a gravity that even today’s super-serious paranormal romance cannot match.

Director Neil Jordan was the perfect choice for this movie. He likes to play with complex characters, like in The Crying Game. These two characters that he deals with are complex indeed, and I admire his attention to detail as he brings these bourgeois New Orleans undead night fops to life. The characters are counter-balanced by the director, who made sure to give them a wide berth to create; they never get too weepy or emotional, because as soon as they do, Jordan turns up the heat. He also knows when to ratchet up a scene, especially during Louis’s moments of agonizing hunger. If there was a flaw, it’s that not enough attention was paid to the side characters, including Claudia, Armand, and Madeleine. Certainly the core audience of this film was not overly concerned about this turn of events (unless you’re a die-hard Antonio Banderas fan), but they made me curious and I was left wanting.

It’s really not what you think. I was expecting a 2 hour long treatise on vampire wieners. But whatever I thought turned out to be wrong. It’s a pretty good meditation on desire and regret, the two dual sides of the coin that is Lestat and Louis’s relationship. It seems a little underdeveloped at some points, and a little overdeveloped at others, but these complaints are trivial compared to what we get, which is a grand gesture of drama in the old tradition of silent film; bold, flashy, and elegant. It’s somewhat of an oddity these days, and a movie really hasn’t been made like it since, so I recommend it just for posterity’s sake alone. Check it out; I give Interview with the Vampire 8 1/2 lady boners out of 10. A high recommendation!

Tomorrow we take a look at Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band: The Movie! Until then!

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3 responses

2 09 2009
goregirl

Tom Cruise is my Nick Cage. I detest him. I could not see past him to enjoy the beauty of this film. Just couldn’t do it.

2 09 2009
cinematronica

Wow. I’m really honored you said that. I hope one day everyone will use Nic Cage’s name in comparison to another object’s ability to impede happiness. “Oh man, that 13 car pile-up is my Nic Cage! Now I’ll never get to work, just like Nic Cage will never stop being a lame-ass!” That’s the future, ladies and gentlemen!

23 03 2010
jenni

This movie has been my favorite sine I was like 10 years old and I’ve read most of the books and i LOVE that you reviewed it!

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