Miller delivers in smart drama

David Moll

I wouldn’t want to keep her highness waiting,” Pierre grumbles as he heads for the door. Begrudging his assignment to interview a disposable pop idol, Pierre wears exhaustion and apathy on his sleeve as he plods off to the curbside, hailing a cab.

Katya is fashionably late; Pierre is incredibly gruff. Their meeting soon degenerates into a war between apathy and narcissism, obligation and self-obsession. By the end of the evening, both parties are irreversibly transformed.

Directed by Steve Buscemi, “Interview” transforms a trite conversation into a complex yet brutal war of intellects and words. Buscemi takes on the role of Pierre Peders, an embittered journalist sent off to write a puff piece interview. Sienna Miller plays Katya, a pop idol and B-movie star with a short fuse for the shiftless hack sent to dissect her career and question her self-worth.

As the evening unfolds and fate forces them together, Pierre and Katya alternate between savagery, deception and seduction in a tangled web of bruised egos, scarred bodies and wounded psyches with no clear victim and no obvious assailant.

As the linguistic fencing match proceeds, Buscemi and Miller deliver emotional, genuine and richly detailed characters that radiate with an honesty that defies expectation. Their exchange forces us to examine why self-interest, isolation and pettiness are used to shield ourselves from the brutality of life.

“Interview” is a reprise of the late Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s original, created in part to pay tribute to van Gogh’s unique way of using confinement as both a character and a setting.

Throughout the film, confinement takes on many forms. First, the physical confinement at the restaurant; later the sense of obligation Katya and Pierre have toward one another as they spend the evening verbally assailing and seducing one another in turn.

The cinematography reflects the tension between Pierre and Katya, taking on a subtly voyeuristic role as the evening progresses. The use of three cameras at once lets the chemistry between Buscemi and Miller dictate the pace, resulting in a masterful reflection of the depth of their characters.

Viewers leave the exchange between Katya and Pierre as abruptly as it began, but with a far greater appreciation for the depth of their characters, the cruelty of life and the price each has paid along the way. By compelling us to reflect on our own lives, “Interview” is a captivating and intellectual drama about humanity, pride and the true cost of fame.