Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

 

 

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

1994. Directed by Neil Jordan. 

Neil Jordan's vampire  epic is a homoerotic pressure cooker that oozes with Gothic atmosphere.

Louis is a vampire who has decided to tell his story to a reporter.  What follows is a chronicle of his transformation, his resistance to the hunt, and his ultimate acceptance of his condition.His undead mentor is Lestat, a vicious predator who revels in his existence.  As Louis travels the world in search of answers, he encounters various creatures of the night and experiences love, loss, and vengeance.  

A mainstream exercise in style over substance, Malcolm Middleton's jaw dropping art design paired with Sandy Powell's enticing costume design are the centerpieces of this film.  The entire story hinges on the visual presentation of the various personas who haunt the dirty streets of New Orleans and Paris.  The idea of immortals wearing various, ever changing ensembles is palpable, with the eyes of the soulless dead being the anchor of Louis' confessional.  Every set piece is presented with intimate attention to detail that only enhances the action when it occurs.

Brad Pitt gives a solid performance as the soulful Louis, but its eclipsed by Tom Cruise's Lestat.  Giving one of the best performances of his career, Cruise juggles the notions of elegant monster and scorned lover with delicate contempt and unhinged fury in equal portions.  Kirsten Dunst delivers a breakout performance as Claudia, the pair's surrogate daughter who embraces her vampiric existence with passion initially, but eventually cannot reconcile with her eternal youth.  Antonio Banderas and Stephen Rea portray Parisian vampires who offer clues to Louie's tortured existence.   Christian Slater rounds out the caster as the human interviewer, acting as the audience's conduit to the fantastical events as they unfold.  

Anne Rice, the author of the novel on which the film is based, wrote the screenplay which is a combination of steamy, forbidden fruit, and genuinely cheesy abandon.  There are laugh out loud moments of feigned sincerity that derailed the emotional synthetics, but also keeps the film in the popcorn fun category.  The film attempts a deep examination of desire and rebuke that works, but fails to plumb more intriguing ideas in its summation.  Love is gained, discarded, and then recycled over and over, so much so that by the end, the viewer is left waiting for more Lestat, despite the admirable attempts of the other players.  Rice's vision is given life by the prolific Phillip Rousselot's engaging cinematography that stalwartly captures the drama with an unobtrusive demeanor.  

Available now on Amazon Prime, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles is a beautiful disaster.  Amazing fashion and lush set designs are the threads that bind the story together, producing a surface level entry into the vampire mythos that is a joy to experience, even if it's ramifications are forgetful. 

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