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Intended as an examination of the combative dialogue between the media and celebrities, Interview is chiefly a showcase for actors Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller, as well as a case study in how to cinematically cope with stagy material. Buscemi’s fourth outing as a director is based on a 2003 movie by murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh—the first of three scheduled English-language Van Gogh remakes—and amounts to an extended two-character quarrel between disgruntled reporter Pierre (Buscemi) and tabloid queen Katya (Miller). Pierre is a political correspondent who, for reasons kept secret until the third act, has been shuffled off to Manhattan on the eve of a presidential scandal to do a puff piece on Katya, an actress known less for her B-movie slasher films and TV soaps than her racy love life. Contemptuous of his subject, Pierre arrives at the interview unprepared, thereby pissing off the self-infatuated Katya, who attempts to abruptly end their restaurant get-together but, due to a random series of events, merely winds up facilitating a venue change for their squabbling from a chic restaurant to her enormous downtown Manhattan loft.

With wine, coke, and mutual disdain fueling their fire, the two spend their evening nastily trying to gain an upper hand by out-manipulating each other into revealing closely guarded secrets. Katya believes that there’s always a winner and a loser in relationships, yet in the case of Interview, Buscemi and Miller spar to a virtual draw, with his weasely arrogance and condescension finding its equal in her spoiled rudeness and subtle caginess. Encapsulating both journalists’ disregard for celebrity infotainment and stars’ frustration with the media’s exploitation of—and then hypocritically patronizing attitude toward—their spotlight lives, the duo’s tête-à-tête doesn’t lead to any particularly astute conclusions about this touchy rapport (aside from proposing that some Paris Hilton-type bimbos are, in fact, sharp as a tack). Still, the two lead performances remain rock solid, and Buscemi’s direction is consistently invigorating. Largely confined to Katya’s spacious abode, Buscemi’s three digital cameras (a shooting style modeled after that of Van Gogh) bob and weave like spry lightweights, darting in and out of close-ups with a swiftness that mirrors the protagonists’ verbal brawl, and helping to energetically prop up a conversation that can, from time to time, border on the obvious and stagnant.

Sony Pictures Classics
83 min
Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi
Steve Buscemi, Sienna Miller