Urban Cinefile
"So they looked at me: d'you wanna kill....? yeah, I'll kill 'em, doesn't worry me."  -Temuera Morrison on his role in The Island of Dr Moreau
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE


MONAHAN,CRAIG : The Interview

The art of the constant reveal is revealed in cinematic form in this new Australian drama; ANDREW L. URBAN interviews The Interview’s writer and director, Craig Monahan.

The Interview, starring Hugo Weaving and Tony Martin, is a gripping twister of a psycho-drama, written and directed by Craig Monahan; it is quite unlike any other Australian film. Weaving, in the performance of his life, plays the interviewee (Eddie Fleming) – dragged out of his slumber one bleak dawn by two police officers, who take him to the station to be interviewed - primarily by Det. Sgt. John Steele (Tony Martin), in an equally brilliant performance - about a crime. He is not sure what crime. We don’t know anything. There are no signs, no clues, no predictable set ups. And nothing turns out the way you expect.

Steele is aided by Det. Snr. Constable Wayne Prior, (Aaron Jeffery), and Det. Insp. Jackson (Paul Sonkkila), who has to handle the internal police politics.

The hapless Eddie flounders his way through a Kafka-esque world, until subtle shifts begin to change the roles of hunter and hunted, and a series of revelations, outside elements and inner police dramas carry the film to a gloriously ambiguous conclusion.

“It’s a completely different experience for an audience if they have any inkling of the ending.”

“I am not telling you what I believe,” says Monahan emphatically; “it’s a completely different experience for an audience if they have any inkling of the ending.”

Essentially it is a battle between two men, “but people can and do draw larger issues from it,” says Monahan.

Speaking of Hugo Weaving’s character, Monahan says “it was important for Hugo to keep the premise that Eddie is an innocent man, right through everything. Secondly, Hugo’s own personality was important, bringing a natural sensitivity and even fragility, which I felt could be good to tap into. Then there was time: time to rehearse early, when all we did was read the script and visit police squads. Then more rehearsals and this time the cast had already spent a month thinking about their characters. The scenes in the interview room were kept till the very last week.”

“It’s potentially naturalistic, but we shot it monochromatically which give it an edge."

Monahan was advised on the script by Gordon Davie, a veteran cop with 20 years service, but the way Monahan makes use of the veracity this brings to the script is dynamic cinema, aided by production designer Richard Bell’s somewhat Gothic look. “Yes, but that’s very Melbourne,” he says. “It’s potentially naturalistic, but we shot it monochromatically which give it an edge. I was keen to have skin tones as the only real colour, and high contrast lighting. The Gothic look came in a few months before we started shooting; originally it had a rather plain look, inside the police building.”

Monahan began playing with the basic premise some years ago, “bored with the conventional narrative structure of most cinema. You go to the movies and you watch narrative drama unfold,” he says.

“Much of it contains signposts or beats where you have access to knowledge or information before the main protagonists, and you watch their journey to acquire the knowledge that you already have.”

".. set about creating a film that is a continuous reveal."

The filmmaker clearly jettisoned this approach; he set about creating a film that is a continuous reveal.

Monahan first approached producer Bill Hughes in 1991 with the essence of the script in place. At the time, Hughes was working on the ABC drama series, Phoenix, which was to become the definitive Australian police drama with its authenticity in areas of both police procedure and politics.

The film was shot in the middle of 1997 in Melbourne, using studios for the interiors and some exteriors around Melbourne’s business district, including the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Email this article

Read our REVIEWS

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020