Screen

Alleva, Richard

16 SCREEN OVERLY SANGUINE 'INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE' ^^M ^^A ^HV atching Interview with the Vampire is ^^R^^B^^V Uke going to a college Halloween ball ^^^H^^^V thrown by the departments of...

...But Pitt, too, is betrayed by his voice, for when he has to bellow at his plantation slaves that they are free, he sounds like a little boy trying to imitate some childish idea of how a great actor declaims...
...That isn't Cruise's fault, but cinematographer Rousselot must have been in agony while working on the actor's close-ups...
...The sophomonc language, cushioned by the lushly dank greens and blues of Philippe Rousselot's photography, matches the grotesque action: Tom Cruise waltzing with the corpse of a plague victim...
...The students wouldn't ^^m w^m be content with dressing up and dancing but would create tableaux of gorgeous hideousness, would boom Berlioz and Mussorgsky from loudspeakers, recite the poetry of French decadents, and stage mock attacks on beautiful maidens and ephebi by lustful vampires and assorted ghouls The contents of the punch bowls would look suspiciously sanguine in hue, and you might not want to inspect each canape too carefully before ingestion...
...In the second half of the movie, Antonio Banderas enters as a Machiavellian successor to Lestat and he wipes his American costars off the screen...
...When he and the child voyage to Europe, fellow passengers are murdered...
...He himself specifies this as the moral downturn in his life, but why...
...Tom Cruise plays Lestat, the aristocratic vampire who lures the protagonist, Louis, into the undead state and then urges him to embrace the evil consequences wholeheartedly...
...Here, for once, the enjoyable masquerade-ball nonsense of the movie modulates into something truly sinister and disturbing But the most disturbing thing about Interview with the Vampire doesn' t appear on screen but in some of the statements Neil Jordan has made to the press When I read that the writer-director oiMona Lisa and The Crying Gameómovies that pierce the heart rather than the jugularóis designating Interview as his most personal film yet, I wish I had Lestat's power of telepathy and could whisper into Jordan's inner ear, "Thanks for the ticket to the costume ball But please get back to earth real soon " richard alleva 17...
...The imagery holds us even when the story line falters I won't soon forget such sights as Louis's midnight encounter with a dapper vampire in the Paris streets, the latter doing a little jig up the facades of buildings, or (the best scene in the movie) the Grand Guignol performance put on by the vampire troupe in which farcical mock-executions are followed by the real sacrifice of an innocent girl while the audience slowly and doubtingly becomes aware that something on stage is very peculiar indeed...
...a little girl vampire dispatching her fussy piano teacher nght in the middle of the lesson, Brad Pitt carving up an entire theatrical troupe of vampires with a scythe If the whole enterprise seems like Les Fleurs du Mai translated into purple prose by a horny adolescent, at least there's a consistency of feeling at work here, necrophilia as fun...
...16 SCREEN OVERLY SANGUINE 'INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE' ^^M ^^A ^HV atching Interview with the Vampire is ^^R^^B^^V Uke going to a college Halloween ball ^^^H^^^V thrown by the departments of drama, ^^^M^^^m painting, and music...
...By whom7 We know that the little girl has become a practiced killer, but has Louis become one, too7 Louis eventually drains a woman's blood but only with her consent in order to give her eternal life...
...Lestat is so archly wicked and leenngly decadent that one yearns to see what Daniel Day-Lewis or John Malkovich would have done with him Jordan has shrewdly coaxed Cruise along, getting him to refine his speech and gestures, guiding him toward a purring malevolence and the enjoyment of being (as another character defines the ideal vampire) "beautifully powerful and without regret" Cruise works hard, has some good moments, but too many fissures appear in the portrait...
...Here is a silk that doesn't tear, veiling a darkness that keeps its secrets Interview posits vampirism as an idealized, extremist analogue of homosexuality...
...I realize this is the sort of interpretation that will warm the heart of Jesse Helms, but the analogy is unavoidable and surely neither Rice nor Jordan can be unaware of it...
...And when Louis rejects the influence of Antonio Banderas, who represents the purest evil in the movie, he seems to be taking a step toward redemption So, when we see Louis near the close of the story as a listlessly predatory senal murderer who does indeed snuff out unwilling prey, it comes as a puzzlement Is the answer in the book7 I'll never find out, for life is much too short for a mere mortal like me to spend even nanoseconds of it reading Anne Rice...
...All the main vampires in this movie are male and, though they prey on both sexes for nourishment, they seek only other men for abiding companionship And the relationship between Lestat and Louis, the bonding of experienced voluptuary with tormented novice, follows the pattern of some of the most famous homosexual relationships in Western culture: Verlaine and Rimbaud, Diaghilev and Nijinsky, Jean Cocteau and Raymond Radiguet Some of the other analogies are more disturbing...
...That they turn her into a vampire may be seen as an enactment of the heterosexual's fear of what may happen to a child adopted by gays...
...Surely he's done it out of compassion and not to feed himself And when he next kills, it's in righteous vengeance, his opponents are utterly evil, and again Louis does not feast...
...Vampires and Rice fans will not, I fear, sympathize On the whole, Interview is fun, for Neil Jordan has here achieved what Kenneth Branagh significantly failed to create in his recent version of Frankenstein: a cinematic universe with a decor, atmosphere, and tempo that allow us to consent to the supernatural...
...Every time he raises his voice above conversation level, to proclaim or demand, we are jolted back from the phosphorescent gloom of eighteenth-century New Orleans to 1994 Hunksville, U.S A. And, alas, Cruise's nose, a prosaic blob, simply doesn't belong on the face of Lestat...
...And, of course, there's the inevitable AIDS connection...
...Resembling gay couples who long for children, Pitt and Cruise "adopt" a little girl...
...Brad Pitt, hther than Cruise and more adept at suggesting morbidity and inner solitude, comes closer to suecess as Louis, a role that doesn't encompass the flamboyant extremes of Lestat's behavior...
...God kills indiscriminately and so do we...
...The same goes for Neil Jordan's rendering of Anne Rice's novel, scripted by Rice herself Don't be put off by such unsavory verbal canapes as "Evil has a point-of-view...
...Dramatically, the movie is hobbled by sloppy storytelling The destination of the plot is to show the eventual moral degradation of Louis via his transformation from a vampire willing to subsist on animals to a ghoul, like his mentor Lestat, casually feasting on the blood of murdered humans But when and how is this fall from grace brought about7 When we first see Louis chomp a human (the little girl), he flees before he can kill her...
...Blood is the drink of life to vampires, but it's the carrier of death nowadays to many gays To see Louis ravenously feasting on Lestat's veins in order to achieve the vampiric gift of eternal life will seem to many to be a fantasy-defiance of our current plague...

Vol. 121 • December 1994 • No. 22


 
Developed by
Kanda Sofware
  Kanda Software, Inc.