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Festivale online magazine, August, 1998
The Interview movie review
The Interview

The Interview follows the fate of a hapless man, Eddie Fleming (Weaving), brought in for questioning to an industrial Gothic police station.

Craig Monahan has come a long way from creating music videos and various documentaries. He began writing the script for The Interview over eight years ago, which was finally furnished off with the help of a couple of co-writers. Much like Neil LaBute (responsible for the astounding In the Company of Men), he has been able to ink more pen and film more cohesively in his first feature than many directors and writers can achieve in their careers. Behind all the sticky multiple twists and unwinding intrigue, his style of film making seems simple enough to me: he doesn't really give a toss what we think of his characters or what they do, just as long as we are manipulated enough into believing two sides of a story, and that knowledge given to us isn't really given at all. It's forced; and once we enter the world of dark, repressive crime life in Melbourne, there's no turning back. And nor would we want to.

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The two main protagonists are plausible and spiteful enough to ensure an almost perfect amount of chemistry between the two leads. Tony Martin is familiar with the tough guy role (with his characters in the long running drama E-Street and Heartbreak High), playing Detective John Steel, who interrogates the scared and confused Eddie Fleming (Hugo Weaving). Fleming seems innocent enough; and perhaps he his, but when his apartment door is busted down by Steel and his even-tougher-guy partner Wayne (Aaron Jeffery), he is placed in a darkened interrogation room in the Melbourne CBD. The charge: car theft. Although Fleming is at first reluctant to talk, when the subject changes from automobiles to serial killings, he's all words. And Steel realizes that his predicament is far more complex than what he once suspected.

Monahan beckons us to ask the questions that he really loves not to answer. Is Fleming telling the truth? Is he manipulating the situation to his advantage? Is he a conniving criminal genius, or an average no-hoper on the dole? Much to the film's advantage, he's probably a little of everything, and reminded me of Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects. Both are unremarkable little men who end up showing their sinister-but-maybe-not-sinister colours.

Monahan and his team of writers have pushed aside conventional narration and replaced it with the art of reveal, where the characters are diffused bit by bit until we can get a reasonable understanding of their motives. This is similar for our comprehension of the plot, which puts our protagonists in entirely different positions. "I've been from Lord Mayor to shit carter in less than two hours," Martin states when a heated conversation eventuates. And whilst on the subject of Martin - he's a dynamic actor who gives an equally dynamic performance. With a subtle Australian flavor to his speech and a vital presence, Martin burns into the back of our brains the perfect image of a good cop and bad cop rolled into one. Weaver is also good - very good - but some of his dialogue seems a touch too simplistic at times.

It's a shame that Monahan has thrown away some valuable scenes with the inclusion of Steel's predictable, uncivil macho man partner Wayne. He spoils the atmosphere on many occasions by looking, pure and simply, stupid. One scene, when Steel gives him firm advice regarding their case, all effectiveness of this moment is lost when Wayne spits over the side of a flight of stairs in his frivolous display of anger.

The Interview is perhaps a little over worked, with the production crew doing everything possible to seduce us into the world of crime investigation. However, it is shot with incredible skill and precision by Simon Duggan, who balances out the film's long pull-backs with extreme close ups. Oscar nominee David Hirschfelder (for Shine) also adds much to the experience with his eerie and abstruse composition.

In the end, The Interview is an excellent gritty Australian flick, with only a few flaws. Although the film's climax is a little too passively written, this is probably a good thing for Craig Monahan - this explosive new director is already impressionably brilliant behind the camera. If he manages to achieve that same feat with his writing, Craig might just become the new force in Australian cinema.

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From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 4 stars
Luke Buckmaster
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Just the facts:

Title: The Interview (1998)
(The Globe Films)
Written by: Craig Monahan, Gordon Davie, Alison Nisselle
Directed by: Craig Monahan
Produced by:
Edited by:
Director of Photography: Simon Duggan

The Players: Hugo Weaving, Tony Martin, Aaron Jefferey, Paul Sonkkilla, Michael Caton, Peter McCauley, Glynis Angel
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: Jun-1998 : Last updated: Aug-1998 : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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