I liked the film of Interview with The Vampire when I saw it eons* ago, but sometime after that I picked up Anne Rice's source novel, which turned out so crappy I dropped it less than a third into. So when I saw the DVD at a friend's place I borrowed it with the intention of checking out if my initial impressions were all too hasty. As it turns out, no. Interview... in its film adaptation is a worthy addition to the vampire cinema chronicles.
The screenplay (Rice herself) is skilfully pared down and keeps the events of the story moving at a sharp clip. For whatever reason, the flagrant homoerotic elements of the novel are implied, but with a restraint that keeps the film from veering entirely into soggy romance territory. The lead performances are sufficiently charismatic to keep the proceedings interesting: Tom Cruise in particular gives his character Lestat a flamboyance that works brilliantly in context, creating one of horror cinema's more enduring monsters. However the real star is director Neil Jordan himself who cocoons the proceedings with a superbly evocative Gothic atmosphere. The look of the film, with its frequent use of candle-lit stages, period furnishings and rich tailoring is like “Merchant-Ivory meets Hammer Studios”, if more grandiose, thanks to a significantly fatter production budget, than either of those chaps could hope for. In fact, the characters' jumping ship mid-way to Europe was a bit disappointing since they'd done such a fine job of showcasing the look of 19th century America (oh well, at least they didn't go to Transylvania to “naaver dreenk vine”). Elliot Goldenthal's moody score with its heavy Jerry Goldsmith vibe is also a big hit with me.
Interview... loses its way in the parts where Lestat is off-screen (and the revenge exacted by Brad Pitt's character on the Parisian vampires comes off ridiculously easy), but it's still recommended as a sufficiently entertaining, sumptuous looking and “not afraid to bare its fangs” vampire film.
* In an age when people actually thought Guns n' Roses was a big deal and bought this film's orchestra-heavy soundtrack album just to hear their cover of The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for The Devil.