Interview with the Vampire ★★

I was there for the Anne Rice frenzy, but it never captured me for some reason. I've listened to and been involved in the fringes death rock/goth scene, and who doesn't love vampires? But, I tried to read "Interview with the Vampire," and the style of writing didn't suit me.

When the movie was announced, I got sucked into the hype -- both from the media machine, and from my friends. So much so that I bought tickets to the midnight showing on opening night...

I fell asleep.

That said, I still have fond memories of the movie, but I only revisited it once when it came out on DVD. I was keen to see it again for our Movie of the Week Series. Andy Summers suggested it, and oddly enough, I was planning to do a rewatch soon anyway...

My appreciation for Tom Cruise has only grown over the years. I enjoyed his performance quite a bit, because he was all in. That's usually one of his defining qualities, but I was a little shocked at how comfortable he was in selling the homoerotic tension back in 1994. On the other hand, Brad Pitt was simply "Brad Pitt" to me. His defining characteristic here is his hair. We'd have to wait until his maturing 5 years later in Fight Club to get a healthy dose of male sexual tension. That's kind of beside the point. I thought their relationship in the film largely worked; but...

What didn't work for me, and why I rate this so low, is that the plot is largely driven by voice over. I was so frustrated to be told the character's emotions and to be told motivations that I'm stunned by the film's high regard. One of the core tenants of film-making is to "show not tell" or to at least "show then tell." In this case, we often get "tell instead of show" and often "tell then show." I found it infuriating. A simple example of this is Louis' (Brad Pitt's) family history. We never get any regard for them until we find out that Lestat's (Cruise's) motivation for turning Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) is connected to Louie's love for his daughter. That almost went way over my head, because it's a voice over aside. Almost all of Louis' motivation is unemotional, which may suit the life of a vampire, but makes a difficult connection as an audience member. Especially when the character's central conceit is to be a "humane vampire." The most emotional connection we ever get is when he eats a dog instead of a human.

It just goes to show how different screenwriting and book writing can be. I consider this to be a film failure, and it seems to be because Anne Rice is listed as the sole screenwriting credit. I have a feeling it was the only way to get the rights to the film, but I don't know. The story is interesting, but I longed for a better execution. Especially considering the people involved.

The film was "okay," by most standards, but it seems like something that could have been really special under the right circumstances. Neil Jordon (the director) has such an amazing track record... it makes me wonder about the posibilities, but I guess we'll never know. I remember liking the follow up, Queen of the Damned which compressed the next two novels into one movie. I wonder how it holds up!