Friday, May 01, 2009

Movie Review: Interview (2007)

The 2007 remake of the van Gogh dutch film Interview (2007) will not go into the annals of great, or even good, indie films. And yet director Buscemi does capture a number of interrelated cultural trends. The first is our continued diefication of the famous and the attempt to contemplate the space between the myth and reality of fame as a route to happiness or alienation. Nothing terribly reveltory develops here -- famous B actresses are actually smarter than we think, and often much more damaged than their public persona. Much more interesting to me, were the dual issues of female empowerment and the resultant castration anxiety that seems to accompany it for older men enticed and repulsed by the emancipatory power young women seemed to have found in the public and private arenas. Young female sexual prowless abuts against the limits of love and sexual pleasure. Pierre Peders (Steve Buscemi) is a cynical political reporter sent in to do a fluff piece on a B-movie and television actress Katya (Sienna Miller, of Jude Law lover fame). After a disastrous interview that Pierre is completely unprepared for, a chance accident leads him to her large loft and a cat and mouse game of revelation and lies. Pierre both loves and hates the young actress, who is clearly more complicated and intriguing than we initially think. In the scenes that follow, the actress uses both her sexuality and intelligence to manipulate Pierre, until the ultimate moment when she tricks him into admitting a murder. Pierre seems to embody the postmodern man, stricken by his failures and alienation, drawn toward youth and a presumed innocence and naivety that does not exist. He is castrated by his own inability to accept his own desire and belief that she is in fact attracted to him (also a problem for the audience, I imagine). Katya, on the other hand, "plays" Pierre for her own amusement, or maybe as revenge for his initial lack of interest in her and her career. At a deeper level, it appears as if the film captures the difficulty in finding real intimacy in a world where affectation overrides affect. Our growing alienation from our own desire that both capitalism and postmodernity have introduced, leads us to a protective shell where we lie to others simply out of fear of the alternative. The big lie in the film revolves around Pierre secretly reading Katya's journal, that admits that she does not love her boyfriend and is comtemplating death. She turns this into a lie about cancer and the real reason she had her breasts reduced. Pierre struggles with his budding attraction and almost fatherly feelings for Katya and his chance to impress his editor and rejuvenate his failing career. He chooses the later, but learns in the end that he has been manipulated; partially because of his inability to recognize that the scene relates to her television character. The media savvy young women capitalizes on the generation gap to play the ultimate trick on the journalist. But to what end? What was his crime? Was it that he didn't revere her as so many other do? Was it that he failed to fall fully for her sexual advances? Was it the revelation that he was a murderer and his life was falling apart? In any case, it seems as if the theme again relates to our inability to find real connection in a world where all social relations seem mediated in some manner, whether through technology or the precarious distance between truth and fiction. Again, in the end, we see youth win out over the cynicism of age, but with a cynicism so endemic to the young -- the cynicism of irony. Buscemi loses the game of attempting to confront the newfound youthful strength of feminity, but is that feminity without its flaws. It is hard to know in the end. She seems disaffected, lies and manipulates her way through the movie, does seem troubled by her relationship to her own fame and its distance from talent and her abuse of drugs and alcohol. She wins but appears as unhappy as Pierre. In a fair to middling film that runs a scant 84 minutes, Buscemi captures many of the troubling aspects of contemporary society and the new forms of alienation that malign contemporary society. (B)