Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This interview is over.

Sienna Miller's construction in the tabloids- and indeed in any more respectacle arena that's criticizing the tabloids for focusing on her in the first place- makes her seem like such a waste of space (and, indeed, time) that it came as quite a shock last year to find that the poor, derided woman could actually act. And, lo and behold, here she is again, in yet another film practically no one cared to see, actually acting again! I can only assume the only reason people continue to ignore the fact that Miller is in fact quite good at what she does is that the world would probably spin off its axis if people didn't have good-looking party-girls to hate (see: Lindsay Lohan). Alright, so, as far I as I know anyway, so far Miller's range is remarkably restricted to characters whose surfaces are so close to her tabloid persona they practically are her- but she proved remarkably good at riffing off Edie Sedgwick's interior shallowness in Factory Girl, and here, in Steve Buscemi's Interview, she's asked to take the opposite tack of peeling back the layers to reveal a more complex, canny person beneath. Katya, shlock horror-movie star and press favourite, plays cat and mouse with Buscemi's political journalist Pierre, and Miller nails all of Katya's manipulative vocal cadences, her wildly fluctuating moods, and the (self-conscious?) hint of a darker core. It's less surprising, naturally, to see Buscemi on good form- he similarly unravels his arrogant, hard-nosed journalist and is particularly good at Pierre's desperate attempts to keep up with Katya's wilful fluctuations.

So it's a great shame, then, that these two diverse but equally interesting performances aren't put to better use. Interview seems to move in circles, getting to expected point of "she's deeper than he thinks she is" rather quickly but stubbornly refusing to move past it, instead going back and forward constantly to reinforce that one thin, obvious point. The film doesn't even reach an hour and a half in length but it starts to drag even before its halfway point, because there's only so long catty dialogue and unpredictable mood swings can sustain something. The aforementioned dextrousness of the performances keeps things alive, though, until the film reaches its ending and takes its final, deadening curve back to the surface point again, cheapening everything we've seen in a seemingly desperate attempt to wake the audience up with a 'shocking' twist. What you've been watching wasn't entirely uninteresting or bad in the strong sense of the word, but, as the credits roll, it does seem remarkably empty and useless, because any point that all the battling dialogue had has been eradicated. Nothing has been proved, nothing learned. This interview is over, and the tape is blank. C-

1 comment:

Cal said...

I just watched this film.

While I disagreed with you about Atonement I totally agree with you here. I found Miller's restless peformer enthralling to watch, and I laughed several times during the exchange, but I was ultimately disappointed by it. Katya as a character is too narrowly constructed. The script feels to treat her with so much contempt and yet want us to feel that there's so much going on with her. It's tiresome.

And the end makes me wonder why I've cared about the characters for 75 minutes. Ridiculous.