Interview With the Vampire

1994, R, 123 min. Directed by Neil Jordan. Starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea, Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Nov. 11, 1994

After the outrageous melodramatics flung between Anne Rice and seemingly everyone else concerning the casting of pretty boy Cruise in the pivotal role the vampire Lestat, this is the fall movie audiences will flock to, sink or swim. It's comforting to know, then, that a) Rice (and all her fans, myself included) was wrong (which she has admitted); Cruise is fine in the role, and b) Oprah's a wimp. It's not a great genre movie in the sense that Murnau's Nosferatu was a great movie, and it's not even that original of a film, such as Kathryn Bigelow's redneck vampire opus Near Dark. It is, however, a very satisfying film, and surely the first in a long franchise (it does, after all, bear the subtitle The Vampire Chronicles). For all two of you who have yet to sink your pointy little incisors into Rice's seminal tale, it's the story of a pair of vampires, the passionate, moral Louis (Pitt) -- who abhors killing so much that he initially dines almost exclusively on the blood of rats after his vampiric inception) and the haughty, evil Lestat (Cruise). Together, they travel around colonial Louisiana, until, eventually, tensions arise and they are set against each other as the centuries pass. Rice's book positively dripped spirituality, decadent homoeroticism, and heady atmosphere, and director Jordan thankfully does his best to keep the novel's unconventional spirit in the fore (Rice is also credited with the screenplay). He does an admirable job here, filling the frames with visions of a gutted New Orleans and draping tendrils of mist and fog across much of the action. The real cause célèbre, shockingly, is Cruise himself: he imbues Lestat with just the right amount of feral pomposity and animal lust, sucking on severed arteries and bathing his mouth in freshets of gore while a grim, sardonic grin plays on his perpetually pouting lips. Very Lestat. Pitt succeeds as well, although he's as apt to give a wooden line reading now and again as Keanu Reeves. I could go on for days citing pros (Dunst, as the child-vampire Claudia, greedily whining “I want some more,” after her first suckling kiss) and cons (the bloated Hollywood feel Jordan runs into every now and again), but Oprah Winfrey said it best when she told Cruise the film was "too dark" for her. A better recommendation I could scarcely give.

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Interview With the Vampire, Neil Jordan, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea, Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst

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