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In the deep Southern heat of 1791 Spanish Louisiana, wealthy plantation owner Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) mourns the loss of his wife and daughter, wishing he might himself shed this mortal coil. In swoops Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), a rather noble looking man who meets the wretched man’s desire half way by turning him into a vampire and forcing him to live off the blood of humans for all eternity. Louis rejects this lifestyle though, disgusted with Lestat’s seeming pleasure in taking lives. He instead sustains himself on animal blood, all the while as Lestat struggles to lure him to the real life of a vampire.
Despondent, Louis discovers a 12-year-old girl (Kirsten Dunst) in the plague-ridden streets of New Orleans, bites her when she doesn’t realize her mother is dead, but then Lestat fully transforms her, thus condemning her to a vampire life (one she is decidedly peeved by since, eternally stuck as pre-pubescent girl, she can never become a woman). She spends her time trying to end the smarmy bloodsucker for his lechery. All of this is told in the present day as Louis is interviewed by a San Francisco reporter named Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater).
Directed by Neil Jordon, Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chonicles was the first heart-throb movie of its type, well before the sparkly Edward of Twilight came along. The quadruple shot of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, and Christian Slater had everyone swooning, and while many critics gave the film passable scores, the film failed to become the huge hit intended. There are some very well-directed moments, and actually, though his casting choice was condemned (even by the author at first), Cruise holds his own and makes for a convincing villain. Pitt ends up being a product of the time, with his long locks and constant brooding, but it is Dunst however, as young Claudia, who comes off the best, in a remarkably powerful performance that gives the story its weight. But there is a moment between Lestat and Louis that truly captures the heart of this tragic story.
Louis is a vampire, but he’s pretty lousy at it. Angry with Lestat for turning him into creature of the night, he refuses to nibble on human necks, instead sucking down blood from the likes of street rats (not bums but actual rats.) Lestat, ever impatient, and spending decades trying to turn the man to the real flavor of being a vampire, make many attempts to bring Louis into the fold. At one point, being devilishly handsome, lures some lovely ladies of the night as victims to their suite and tries to tempt the squeamish and impetuous steely-eyed Louis to sink his teeth into some fresh girly-flesh. Seems foolproof, but Louis, repulsed by Lestat’s murderous manner, is not easy to convince.
Lestat, who had offered Louis the choice to be vampire long before, considers what he’s done for Louis a gift, and flat out thinks munching on rat parts for sustenance is debasing for such regal vampires. Louis accepts his fate, a burden he carries willingly, but can’t bring himself to kill a human being. That’s a line his moral compass will not let him cross. Here, in a devastating moment, Lestat has lured a beautiful young woman (Indra Ové) to their beds (having already dispatched the other) and has, with lascivious temptation in his eyes, mortality wounded the poor girl and now offers her to Louis, demanding he put her out of her misery.
Realizing what is happening, the girl desperately pleads with Louis for help, to set her free of this frightful agony, but he can’t do it, and leaves it to Lestat, who in a rage, slays the pitiful woman and chastises his apprentice. In a blood-soaked room, with two corpses now strewn on the the floor, Louis has a terrible epiphany: Lestat is the only one he can learn from. He alone is the standard for which his now immortal life must be gaged. It’s a rift that will forever separate them and defines who each man will be for all eternity and fully puts the story in motion. It’s a great moment.
Director: Neil Jordan
Writers: Anne Rice
Stars: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst