Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 16 News List

'Interview' is quite the match

By MANOHLA DARGIS  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

There isn't an ounce of responsible journalism in Interview, yet it does have a certain appeal in the form of Sienna Miller.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF CIMAGE

Vaporous and chilled to freezing, Interview lacks a single honest moment, but it does have plenty of diverting ones. Directed by the actor Steve Buscemi, and based on an earlier film by the Dutch director Theo van Gogh (whose slaying by an Islamic extremist in 2004 inspired this remake), the movie is one of those chatty, catty, conceptual face-offs that are often best left to the stage and for which sports metaphors seem to have been invented. Two well-matched opponents enter, spar, punch, clinch, flail, break, draw blood (metaphoric, literal), block and knock down. Do they score? Yes and no.

Buscemi plays a liverish, rumpled journalist, Pierre Peders, who has been, much to his great and obvious disgust, assigned to interview an actress. She would be Katya, a beautiful blonde with no apparent last name, persuasively inhabited by the movie's single real surprise, Sienna Miller. Though she stars in horror flicks and a television show that looks and sounds a bit like Sex and the City, Katya plays an even bigger role in the gossip columns, for which she provides endless delectable fodder, perhaps willingly, perhaps not. Her celebrity shines so brightly that two restaurant patrons even surrender their table to Katya after they've been seated (hey, it's her favorite), cooing fawning sweet nothings to her as they float to a lesser perch.

What Katya wants, Katya seems to get, though she probably never thought she'd get as openly contemptuous an interviewer as Pierre. They first meet in a restaurant; she's late, he's steamed. He soon insults her, she blanches. It's on.

It's no great shock that Pierre and Katya seem equally eager to sell each other out. Journalism's bad rap and the contempt with which successful women are often held hardly make another scenario possible. Still, despite the story's obvious drift, the sham setup, the dubious details and the dreariness of the digital-video colors and tones, Interview keeps you watching because its two stars do. Buscemi's evident lack of vanity is its own kind of vanity, one that is well matched by Miller's utter confidence.

Film Notes

Interview

DIRECTED BY: Steve Buscemi

STARRING: Sienna Miller (Katya), Steve Buscemi (Pierre Peders), James Franco (voice on the phone)

RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

TAIWAN RELEASE: Today


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