DIRECTOR:                    NEIL JORDAN
MUSIC:                           ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL
CAST:                             Tom Cruise (Lestat), Brad Pitt (Louis), Christian Slater (Malloy), Kirsten Dunst (Claudia), Antonio Banderas (Armande), Stephen Rea (Santiago)
WRITTEN BY:                ANNE RICE
ONE WORD:                  The period sets are excellent.

It's hard to say that this is a bad film, whether it is a vampire piece, or just another story. Anne Rice's contribution to the genre, has been to bring the vampire into the modern times. And her story, is excellent, complete with all the elements that created the famed genre, and in this case, brought to the screen with almost all the details of the Hammer Films repertoire. But, as Anne Rice states in the beginning of the film, this is about US, not vampires. So were the other stories, I guess.

This is the story of Louis, not so much Lestat. He has lost his wife and child in New Orleans, and in his desperate desire to kill himself, he ends up in the hands of Lestat, who turns him into a vampire. And here, Anne Rice adds one of the very first ideas, which the other vampire stories had not touched. She states that for one to become a vampire, he has to be fed from the main vampire, or leader, some of their blood. A nice touch, since the vampire has to give something of itself in order to create a friend. It explains things a bit better, and how some become vampires and some do not. With the stories of Count Dracula, we almost assumed that they all became vampires after they were bit. Here, all the people are immediate victims. Only the lucky ones survive.

A friendship revolves around Lestat and Louis, but the latter still has a longing for a woman, or child. And one day he accidentally comes across a young girl, and without meaning to, he takes her. And Lestat saves her. Claudia becomes very strong, in the long run and almost destroys everything they have.

Louis eventually breaks his friendship with Lestat, by attempting to kill him, and disappears with Claudia to Europe where he proceeds to learn more about vampires. He meets with a group of them and finds that they are just as vicious if not more so. They proceed to kill Claudia and one of the friends she has made. Louis is once again, alone. He avenges himself, and then returns to the States, where he is in this day, telling his story to a reporter.

The reporter finally leaves, more afraid than anything else, only to find himself overtaken by Lestat, and the next chapter, or sequel is set.

Compared to the most famous film vampires, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt hold their own. But the best of them all, is Kirsten Dunst who just about steals the show. She is young, but is dressed smartly and is attractive at every turn. And her inner battle is justified. She can never become a woman. This takes its toll on her.

The film is well directed, and thoughtfully shot. We just about know every time, by the angles ( a Jordan trait ) how the characters think. The camera gets intimate.

While the film is good, I can't help think that the greats Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee are being forgotten and left behind. I would have liked to cast Christopher Lee in some role in this film to see how these could match wits. The characters are much more modern than the actual story, but they are solidly written, even for the screen, which is the mark of a good writer of words, in the first place.

The film is bloody in parts, and occasionally has some rather unsavory parts. It does lack the romanticism that Frances Ford Coppola had displayed in his version of Bram Stoker's
novel, but it does have a well told story. There is, however, one interesting part to this film, something that can not be filmed ... yet! Ann Rice's best stories are in the Erotic sections and under a surname. In those stories, the whole thing about vampires is developed much further than is usually found in most literature and specially film. In the end, this film is a bit about the status quo, because of the nature of film in our society, and as such it can not develop further than it really can, something that is very much within Ann Rice's grasp, but will never be filmed in her lifetime or mine, or yours.






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