Steve Buscemi asks the questions in Interview. He raises a sceptical eyebrow in the role of bumptious journalist Pierre Peders who's assigned to do a fluff piece on celebrity 'it girl' Katya, played by Sienna Miller. As co-writer and director, Buscemi also raises concerns about the fragility of trust and the need for human connection. Essentially it's a game of verbal ping-pong and, even if cynicism wins the day too easily in the end, the interplay is lively and intriguing.
Miller echoes her bold performance in Factory Girl, portraying Katya as a bag of raw nerves draped in sparkly self-confidence. But despite her tabloid image, she's no bimbo and that takes Peders by surprise in their evening meeting. Being a former Washington correspondent, he resents having to debase himself (as he sees it) with celebrity tittle-tattle. And yet the old press hound instincts kick in when he senses that Katya is hiding something - something big.
An undercurrent of foreboding draws you in and brings a suspense element to this deceptively simple two-hander. Buscemi makes it a violent, push-pull relationship, where flirtation suddenly turns to repulsion when those dirty little secrets threaten to come out. Given the minimalist approach, it's a surprisingly dynamic story and it digs deeper than the obvious critique of celebrity culture; Buscemi gets knee-deep in the sexual politics - albeit with a hint of misogyny. However, some scenes, like Peders spilling his guts about his dead daughter, feel utterly disingenuous. Early on, Buscemi is grasping at straws just to keep these two people in the same room and the final twist isn't as clever or insightful as the writers might like to think. In more ways than one, the truth stays out of Buscemi's reach, but thankfully his snappy rapport with Miller covers a multitude of sins.
Interview is out in the UK on 2nd November 2007.