A confession. I'm a big Anne Rice fan. And when I say "I'm a big Anne Rice fan", I mean "I'm a big fan of her early work, before she rediscovered religion and subsequently fell off her rocker". Not to say there's anything bad about rediscovering faith...it's just that Anne Rice manages to put a psycho crazy spin on everything she does. That aside, Interview with the Vampire is a genuinely good book. It's got a truly creepy gothic tone, it deals with complicated moral issues, and the vampires don't sparkle. If you want a good gothic novel--Dracula style--I'd highly recommend picking Interview up. As for the rest of the series, well, it's enjoyable, but it's also a fascinating peak into the steady decline of Anne Rice's sanity. All that said, I was reluctant to see the movie. Especially with Tom Cruise's name tagged along in it. The skeptic in me told me to stay away, but the curious cat in me had to check it out. And let me tell you: worth it. Ten times over.
The real master in this movie is Neil Jordan. Hands down. He collaborated with the author to get a good script, and then he delivered. Lord of the Rings aside, Interview with the Vampire has to be the best book-to-movie translation I've ever seen. Forget the fact that he alters a couple scenes--that's expected in these kind of deals. What is really impressive is the fact that Neil Jordan manages to translate the tone of the book. The rich, gothic, New Orleans atmosphere. He nails it. Completely. I've seen movies that have managed to do relatively good successful translations of book-to-movie by simply keeping in as much of the book as they can. And sure, I can respect that. But to capture the actual ambience of the book? The heart and soul of the narration? That's a heavy rabbit to pull of the hat, and Neil Jordan makes it look easy.
Lastly, of course, I have to give props to the actors. I don't know what it is--maybe it's Neil Jordan being awesome again, maybe it's the 90s, maybe it's just the material--but every one of these actors literally disappears inside their roles. Brad Pitt. Huge name, right? You'd recognize him anywhere. Well, maybe not playing the brooding Louis, with his hopeless, passive attitude towards life and his mournful green eyes. Even Antonio Banderas, despite his accent that always sticks out like a sore thumb, blends in completely with the velvet drapes and haunting candelabras. But, amidst all that talent, there are two actors that really steal the show. Tom Cruise and Kristen Dunst. The last two names you would expect on that list, right? Well, let me put it this way: Kristen Dunst was about 10 at the time, and I still think it was the best role of her career. She's one frightening and manipulative little girl. And Tom Cruise as Lestat? Homeboy nails it. Does it help that the character is narcissistic, arrogant, and controlling? Probably. But it's more than that. Tom Cruise plays the colorful and vibrant exterior of the character...as well as the damaged and insecure interior. The chemistry between Cruise and Dunst is killer. Literally. To wrap this bad boy up: if you're looking for a vampire movie with a little less sparkle and a little more awesome, check this one out.