Fans of Anne Rice’s mega-popular series of supernatural horror novels shook their fists to the full moon when it was announced that — of all people — Tom Cruise would be playing the featured role of Lestat de Lioncourt, the cruel, conniving and impossibly charismatic aristocrat who also happens to be a bloodsucking creature of the night (literally), in director Neil Jordan’s big-budget film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire. Even Rice herself made it publicly known that she wasn’t happy with Cruise’s casting — though she retracted her comments, as did millions of fans, when the Top Gun star ended up completely immersing himself in the role and delivering a charming, intense and and often darkly humorous performance. Interview follows the centuries-spanning dysfunctional relationship between Lestat and the (again, literally) eternally depressed Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt, not too shabby himself), from their first meeting in 1791 New Orleans to Louis’ time in a 19th-century grand guignol theater in Paris to present-day San Francisco; along the way, they “adopt” a young orphan named Claudia (Kirsten Dunst, hitting it out of the park), whose mother fell victim to the Black Plague. Jordan’s film is flawed but fascinating, casting a seductive spell as it slowly unfolds its twisting, turning tale, mixing the story’s lush gothic romanticism with a true sense of isolation and melancholy. Antonio Banderas and Jordan regular Stephen Rea play Armand and Santiago, the heads of the Theatre des Vampires, and Christian Slater steps in for the late, great River Phoenix as the interviewer lucky enough to hear Louis’ story of the centuries.
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