Interview with the Vampire
With Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt
Reviewed by Max Lane
Vampire brilliantly transports the audience into the degenerate, darkly colourful underside of 18th century New Orleans and Paris. The three main characters, the vampires Lestat (Tom Cruise), Louis (Brad Pitt) and Louis' adopted vampire daughter, are all totally convincing.
In Vampire the audience is entertained through transportation into another world: but what a horrific place.
A young woman in a state of sexual arousal is bitten hungrily in the breast by Lestat. Blood flows down over her body, down between her legs. She comes out of her state of arousal and runs around the room screaming for pity. Lestat locks her in a coffin. While she bangs from inside to get out, Lestat attempts to cajole Louis, a vampire squeamish about vampire ways, to finish her off. Louis won't do it, so Lestat does.
At a Vampire Theatre in Paris some bewildered woman is tormented, stripped naked and eventually murdered by a vampire actor who sinks his teeth into her neck. Having taken his feed, he throws her body to be bled dry by a waiting black-cloaked, cockroach-looking horde of fellow vampires. There is considerable ambiguity as to whether the voyeuristic audience knows that the victim is a real victim and not just an actor. Of course, we know that there are no real victims in the film, so obviously the film audience is much less turned into sadistic voyeurs.
The drama is a conflict between Lestat, who revels in his inhumanity, and Lestat's chosen but exasperating companion, Louis, who feels squeamish about his inhumane life. Perhaps the scenes of cruelty are needed to make a point about this issue? But no, this is more the excuse than the reason for the film. The film avoids any direct depiction of how Louis solves the problem of his squeamishness. When Louis finally surrenders to feed on humans, the surrender is never shown.
In the end, Louis' concern is not the pain of the vampire's victims, but his own squeamishness. This is why just the presence of his vampire daughter is enough to make him feel better. He does strike out against the vampires once, destroying the Vampire Theatre. But even this is more an act of revenge for them killing his vampire daughter.
So Louis lives his eternal life alone, feeding on "whomever I come across". Lestat, however, chooses the juiciest or most tormentable victims. Torment and cruelty are associated with energy and decisiveness; the alternative is a pathetic squeamishness broken only in moments of personal revenge.
Unfortunately, the million dollar recreations of cruelty are used for nothing more than to make more dramatic the very common but hardly profound story of someone who chose the wrong companion and in the end has to try to find somebody else. Why make such a voyeuristic film laced with such sadism about such a banal topic? For the money, of course.