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
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.”
naturalistic, but we shot it monochromatically which give it
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
".. 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.