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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


Dawn. A seemingly meek and mild Eddie (Hugo Weaving), is asleep in the armchair of his shabby flat, when two cops storm in, ransack the flat and violently arrest him; the two officers, Det Sgt John Steele (Tony Martin) and Det Snr Const Wayne Prior (Aaron Jeffery), take him downtown to HQ, and into an interrogation room, where they interview him over several hours. At first, they seem to have little to pin on him, yet go over and over the most mundane details of his life. Then it emerges there is a car theft he might be involved in; but there is more beneath the surface, and as hours go by in this isolated world, the line between innocence and guilt dissolves into shadow. Eddie changes tack but is still trapped in a game of life and death. The police desperately try to drag him under the waves of complicity, but their interrogation methods have been monitored by the ethics team, complicating life for all. The private agendas, secret deals and police instituitionalism coalesce and the truth becomes tantalisingly elusive - even when it seems to have been revealed.

"From the foreboding cello in the opening shot of a small fishbowl in front of an open window, flimsy curtains flapping, colour washed out of the picture, we are aware of strong cinematic talent at work. As the film progresses, this is confirmed in every way, from camera positioning and lighting, to production design and the extraordinary performances. There is a clear intent on the part of writer/director Craig Monahan to fill out the narrative with the mood and sense of the setting, to inform our senses in equal proportion to informing our intellect. (Assisted by ex-cop co-writer Davie.) The script - filled with sharp bends and U turns - lets us float in and out of sympathies and expectations like a dark and restless river. We are never given more than the bare necessities in character and motive, making all our judgements unstable. This builds tension in a quite purposeful and intoxicating way, but the pinnacle of praise must go to Hugo Weaving, who spends almost the entire film sitting in a chair in the interview room inside the gothic police station. Weaving has never done such complex, subtle, powerful and ultimately satisfying work, cranking up the ambiguity of his character in the process. (He came close in Proof, though.) If this performance passes unnoticed at awards time, it will be a serious misdemeanor. But his co-stars Tony Martin and Aaron Jeffery must not be overlooked; both contribute full bodied, complex characters, which is essential in such a claustrophobic film. So does the rest of the superb cast. The Interview is gripping entertainment, powerful movie making and thrilling drama; it leaves quite a few questions behind, which is not what we expect from an interview. But there is nothing predictable in this film. You will never see criminals or the police the same way again."
Andrew L. Urban

"Edgy and intriguing, The Interview is a forum for a delicate balancing act of the mind, which evokes an unsettling foray of suspicion with varying shades of gray. The structure is powerful yet simple, where the effect of the written and spoken word is maximised, and every nuance magnified. Beginning with one premise, additional information is revealed gradually, and our thoughts and opinions of the players shift uneasily, as doubt and suspicion evolve naturally. At the story's beginning, we believe that we are witnessing the harassment of an innocent victim. As the events progress and more is revealed, an element of doubt is planted. But then the harasser becomes the harassed, and complexities ensue. Issues of police corruption, manipulation and foul-play are canvassed, leaving the viewer well stimulated and certainly fascinated. With stark close-ups, harsh lighting and a moody music score, Craig Monahan has brought a chilling work to the screen, where the battlefield is that of human minds. Hugo Weaving heads a top cast, giving an effective, complex performance as Eddie Rodney Fleming, the innocent victim who may not be so innocent. Tony Martin is chilling as the tough cop brought in to get results: here is a character we love to hate. There's not much that's redeeming about him, yet there is an aura of fascination at his brutal, off-limits technique, that is almost pathetic. The Interview is compelling viewing, a striking addition to new Australian cinema."
Louise Keller

"The concept of truth and interrogation is part of what makes The Interview cinema at its most compelling. It would have been easy to turn this psychological drama into a stagy piece, but director and co-writer Craig Monahan has combined the visual fluidity of film making with the taut artistry of the written word, to create a spellbinding and invigorating drama, a powerhouse of skill and intellect. The film's premise is an intriguing one, taking the idea of apparent innocence in a man so seemingly terrified of his ordeal, and turning the concept on its unpredictable head. It is a simple notion, but to lure an audience into this world of claustrophobia for its 105 minutes is no easy task, but it's accomplished superbly. Aided by a subtle and haunting score by David Hirschfelder, the film's shifting tone is marvellously created. Where so many Australian films fail is in their writing, but this script is a tight collage of wit, sharp dialogue and deliciously formed characters, brought remarkably to life by some of this country's finest practitioners. Hugo Weaving is at his best here, timid, vulnerable, sly, intellectual. He gives his finest and most complex performance to date. But Tony Martin as the older cop is also a force to be reckoned with, delivering superbly meticulous and honest performance as a multi-layered cop, the kind rarely seen on screen. Thematically, The Interview is an absorbing, psychological drama, a powerful comment on the nature of police practice in our society, and the nature and psychology of the adversary. This is compelling and exhilarating cinema, and an example of what one can do with minimal sets and no special effects."
Paul Fischer

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Read Andrew L. Urban's interview with director


CAST: Hugo Weaving, Tony Martin, Aaron Jeffery, Paul Sonkkila, Michael Caton, Peter McCauley, Glynis Angel, Leverne McDonnell, Libby Stone, Andrew Bayly, Doug Dew

DIRECTOR: Craig Monahan

PRODUCER: Bill Hughes

SCRIPT: Craig Monahan, Gordon Davie


EDITOR: Suresh Ayyar

MUSIC: David Hirschfelder


RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: May 27, 1999
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 21st Century Pictures

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