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by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Interview & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & P & lt;/span & ierre Peders (Steve Buscemi) is meeting an actress to do an interview he really doesn't want to do. He's an aging Beltway wonk who's been busted down to "people profiles" because of some fuzzy journalism. She's Katya (Sienna Miller), a B-movie queen and star of a TV show that falls somewhere between Sex and the City and Knots Landing. By the time she shows up, Pierre has been waiting for an hour. She apologizes grandly and sincerely. "Stuck in traffic?" he asks. "No, no, I live up the block," she answers.

Pierre then proceeds to ask what films Katya's been in, before admitting to having never seen any of them. "Didn't they send you screeners? They usually do that," she comments. "Yeah," he replies. "I've got it in my bag here."

That's when it gets sassy. He talks about her breast size and partner selection. She plays on his name, first fumbling over it, then calling him Pierre Pierre and finally Peter Peters. The first time she does so to seem ditzy; then, to suggest to Pierre that she thinks he's full of himself. (A name like Pierre suggests pomposity; a name like Peter, you know, doesn't.) The final time is to suggest that he's below her, that she's done with him. He gets the final word, though.

"Goodbye, Peter Peters."

"See ya later, Kuntya."

Zang. It's a well-written scene and it's well executed. Miller crackles while Buscemi affects sardonic and weary as well as he ever has.

The action, by way of a very serendipitous, very European-feeling conceit, then shifts to her apartment. Katya and Pierre, Round Two, is less about cheap shots than psychological terrorism.

The conversation, good as it is, feels frequently disjointed, segueing from one topic (say, Pierre's crazy brother) to another (Katya's swelling and shrinking breasts) with little ostensible reason. Stranger is when the tone swings from frantic dry-humping to borderline ass-beating (from both characters).

It's as though Buscemi and screenwriting partner David Schechter (a first-timer) knew the final destinations and knew some landmarks along the way but didn't have a map of the film's surface streets. So they invented a teleporter (which they code-named "cocaine").

The film, though, ultimately succeeds due to its ambiguities (just not the ones previously mentioned). With big, schlocky, Reality Bites-type overtures like "Why do you choose only the most commercial crap?" and "I want to know what's haunting you," Interview could have easily become that staple of post-millennial indie filmmaking, the darkly uplifting (and funny!) redemption narrative. Buscemi (who also directs) avoids that tiresome pitfall, creating instead something more subtle and confounding. Interview isn't a morality play and it's not an anti-morality play. It's closer to an amorality play.

But even that's not the right term. Interview, ultimately, is about two sad, ruined people clinging to those few scraps of life that still give them warmth: their past successes and the hope of more in the future. That makes Interview the kind of movie that's sad, but only in hindsight. That's because it's only after you go home and sit down and think about your life and write out your career goals that you'll realize how much you have in common with those two pitiful, vainglorious specimens. (One night only, Thursday, Aug. 30 at AMC; Rated R)

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