Katya and Pierre's mutual distrust is predictable, but the movie emphasizes their sometimes surprising sameness.


Director: Steve Buscemi
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Sienna Miller, Michael Buscemi, David Schecter
Distributor: Sony
MPAA rating: R
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
First date: 2007
US Release Date: 2007-07-13 (Limited release)

"The Cowboys are going down." When Pierre (Steve Buscemi) makes his prediction for the coming football season, Interview is just beginning. But already, the film's inclination to metaphorical overkill is clear. Speaking with his brother Robert (Michael Buscemi), Pierre's guy-bonding ploy is a wretched failure; Robert remains unresponsive, head bowed and eyes closed, in an institutional interview room. At last Pierre leaves, the scene's odious sentiment looming over the rest of the film: a self-styled combat zone renegade and fundamentally square "tough guy," Pierre will be going down.

He can't know as he heads off to his current assignment, an interview with pop icon Katya (Sienna Miller), that his evening will become a contest of opposites -- man and woman, politics and fluff, truth and fiction, even parent and child. He also can't know that Katya, whom he disdains so self-righteously, is both more and less complex than her reputation as a tabloid pages fave. Their encounter begins terribly, as she arrives at the restaurant an hour late (dreading the interview for her own reasons, including the fact that she's tired of being asked about her breast reduction surgery) and he has made it a point not to read her bio or see her latest film, Killer Body Part Four. "I don't usually do this," he grumbles, mad that he's been removed from his usual beat, politics and war zones. His resentment is ratcheted up by the fact that on this very night a story is erupting in DC, having to do with the indictment of the "architect of the president's career."

Based on a 2003 movie by murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, Interview is not subtle. A series of contrivances leads Pierre to Katya's frankly stunning loft with a bump on his head (for which she provides a sack of frozen peas) and a profound resistance to completing the interview. Still, they persist, drinking and arguing, even kissing (unconvincingly) at one point, apparently unable to quit one another despite their repeatedly expressed antipathy and distrust.

The first problem -- their shared hostility -- is obvious and trite, at least in Pierre's mind. The assignment indicates Pierre's demotion at his paper, Newsworld, as Katya, renowned for her "killer smile," embodies the superficiality and self-absorption attributed to young, much-worshipped stars. "Is beauty important for your career?" he asks, by way of philosophical probing. Katya comes back with what may or may not be her best shot: "Is journalism important for your personality?", reversing the relationship between terms (journalism shapes his "personality," as opposed to beauty effecting her career) and so revealing the flaw in the question.

If Katya understands her beauty as an instrument, a genetic accident that grants her means to ends (she jokes that she's "America's latest wet dream"), Pierre sees it as an unearned advantage, even a threat. "Are you good at seducing men?" he asks, as banal and self-serving a question as anyone might imagine. Katya plays along, noticing his own efforts to inveigle her ("What would be the point of telling me I was beautiful if you didn't want to fuck me?"), even as the film suggests Pierre is honestly struck (she is, after all, Sienna Miller). In turn, Katya resents Pierre's arrogance, his presumption that her work is unworthy and his is important.

All that said, Katya own wiles are also familiar, whether she's messing with Pierre or "confessing" (or both). When she tells him a man is made "most attractive" by a scar, "because most women most women have one too," you hope she's kidding, though Pierre, apparently desperate for earnestness, seems not to get the joke. Knowing upfront that she's tired of discussing her latest lover or breast surgery, he makes a minor effort to ask her the sorts of questions he might ask someone he respected -- or cared to impress -- the politicians who occupy his usual bit. But she knows, as you do, that they're not any more honest than "celebrities," whether or not Pierre would admit it.

And this leads to Interview's most potentially compelling aspect, despite its decidedly heavy-handed approach to it. Katya and Pierre's mutual distrust is predictable, but the movie emphasizes their sometimes surprising sameness. Early in their evening, they split off to watch different screens: while he's invested in the TV opinionators describing how little information they have concerning the DC scandal, she's watching herself on the nighttime soap City Girls, arguing with her fictional boyfriend. Both shows are about deceit and confession, paralleling the movie's narrowing focus, as Katya and Pierre proceed to admit to one another various secrets and misdeeds. She snorts coke in front of him, he shares a sad story about his dead drug addict daughter: it's never clear how true or manipulative either moment might be, but each seems to move its audience. Then again, Katya and Pierre might be faking their responses.

While confession is supposed to be ingenuous, in celebrity culture -- political or pop -- confession is as self-serving as any other performance. Hence the "interview" as a promotional device, whether selling ideas or products (or ideas as products). If the "good" interview reveals some detail that has not yet public, the "bad" one repeats what we all know already. (This would be another of the film's familiar oppositions that doesn't hold up when submitted even to the slightest scrutiny.)

It could be, by film's end, that Pierre achieves a kind of truth, in his vulnerability, self-doubt, or even his perception that he's been outsmarted. Or maybe crafty Katya shows herself in victimizing him, or even better, in her self-deception. Maybe, as so many reviewers have said, the film exposes the performers' talents, some going so far as to be surprised that the beautiful Miller keeps up with Buscemi (a sentiment that echoes Pierre's presumptions). In any case, in revealing their many efforts at artifice and incapacity for truth, Interview tells a conventional story, after all.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.