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Interview With the Vampire

Year: 1994
Production Co: Geffen
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Geffen
Writer: Anne Rice
Cast: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater, Stephen Rea, Thandie Newton
Visually and atmospherically stunning. Neil Jordan gets as close as a film could get to the spirit of Anne Rice's unique take on the vampire myth.

It's rich in texture and sensuality and more faithful to the themes of immortality and thirst than the Hollywood trappings of wovles, crosses and garlic that would drive the vampire-chic school of film making (applying the myth to every conceivable period and demographic).

And the performances are stellar. Watching Kirsten Dunst breeze through films as unchallenging to an actor as Bring It On and Spiderman, we forget her auspicious beginnings. Only about ten years old, she infuses the part of Claudia with a passion and emotional range few actors of any age can.

And Hollywood's favourite pretty boys, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, both show talent that goes beyond their sex symbol personas - portraying 18th century New World gentlemen, and the accents are only part of it. Both men - especially Cruise as Lestat - exude the sort of sensual awareness that parallels the story, and the homoerotic themes people complained about only increase that sensuality.

Louis (Pitt) relates his story to reporter Daniel (Slater) - that he is a vampire. Born to the undead while mourning his wife and child as a plantation owner in the 1790's, the troublemaker Lestat kills and bears him as a companion and pupil.

Centuries follow of Louis struggling with his newfound instincts - the thirst maddens him, but his human conscience remains and he abhors committing so many murders. Lestat, endlessly frustrated with Louis' pity, only wants him to enjoy his powers and the world around him, the human race cattle for his thirst.

When they together create a vampire from Claudia, a little girl whose family is stricken with plague, they awaken a headstrong intellect who will come between them and convince Louis to flee with her to find the rest of their kind, killing Lestat to get him out of the way.

In Paris, they find a theatrical troupe of vampires led by Armand (Banderas). Learning of their murder of Lestat, the band take terrible vengeance on Claudia for breaking the code to not kill their own kind. After a brutal revenge against them, Louis is left to wander the Earth alone until he meets Lestat again hundreds of years later, a sniveling wreck living in a cemetery.

The film isn't without faults - the plot isn't always clear, and the characters speak in whispered poetry so on video you'll have trouble keeping up. But the mood hangs as heady as the scent of flowers in New Orleans that Louis describes near the end, and some of Hollywood's best names show what they can do.

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