Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst
Written by: Anne Rice
Directed by: Neil Jordan
How good is this movie?
Solid and stylish if slightly silly fun. Tom Cruise doesn’t have the charisma to make his part anything but cheesy, but at least it’s entertainingly cheesy. Most of the other actors fit well enough into their roles, and Kirsten Dunst is fun in one of her earliest performances.
How ace is this movie?
Louis tells us at the beginning that he had a wife and child who died. In the aftermath of his loss, we see him seeking out the sexual services of a tavern girl. That’s all the movie gives us in terms of sexual interactions between humans.
How ace are these vampires?
As far as feeding goes, the erotic side of blood-drinking is emphasised to an almost ridiculous degree. Louis talks about his desire for blood as an uncontrollable hunger he is disgusted by yet helpless to resist – much like the Victorian attitude towards sex. Victims consistently respond to being bitten as if to sexual pleasure. This gives a decidedly sexual dimension to the relationship between vampires and humans. However, the movie is more concerned with the relationships among the vampire characters themselves.
The vampires are nothing if not queer, but their queerness is never expressed in explicit sexual activity. There isn’t even any evidence of them feeding off each other; in fact, we’re told that vampires have a specific rule against drinking the blood of the dead. That said, characters are frequently described as “wanting” each other, and it’s not hard to interpret this as sexual desire. Lestat and Louis live together, feed together, and even raise a child together much like a same-sex couple. The erotic chemistry in their relationship is undeniable, as is the sexual tension between Louis and Armand.
However, at least one of Louis’s relationships seems to preclude the possibility of sex: the one with Claudia. Louis and Claudia also speak of “wanting” each other. They call each other “my love” and often sleep in the same coffin. Once free of Lestat’s influence, they live together, travel together, and go out dancing together just like a heterosexual couple. The way Louis talks about her strongly suggests that she is the one true love of his un-life. However, Claudia is not sexually mature – and, as a vampire, she never can be. As a result, the relationship is presumably sexless, and is therefore hard to define. Claudia views Louis as her lover, but also as her mother and father – a weird mixing of roles that suggests he may also be none of those things. She expresses jealousy when he shows an interest in Armand, but then demands, not a replacement lover, but a replacement mother. We thus have many options for how we understand their relationship, including as a friendship, as a parent-child relationship, and even as an asexual romance.
The ambiguity of Louis and Claudia’s relationship opens up possibilities for how we understand the other relationships, too. If they can experience desire, tenderness, devotion, jealousy, and heartbreak over each other without sexuality, why not other characters? We also see intense, non-sexual desire in the mother-daughter relationship between Claudia and Madeleine. What is to keep us from similarly interpreting Louis and Lestat’s relationship as a queerplatonic partnership, or Louis and Armand’s mutual attraction as a squish? Sex may be all over the place in these relationships. Or it may be nowhere. Ultimately, the film allows for all kinds of queer readings – including ace ones.
3.5 Stars; 4 Aces