True Romance (film)

True Romance (Directed by Tony Scott)/1993

True Romance is my favourite Quentin Tarantino film, which is interesting as he is not the director (Pulp Fiction is my second). He wrote the movie script but it was directed by Tony Scott. I am not anything close to a Tony Scott fan, but for some reason this collaboration managed to produce a unique, dreamy and ultimately classic film. While having some of the signature Tarantino violence, it is not as ubiquitous as his other films and the movie as a whole has a more thoughtful, caring feel to it.

This film is stacked with stars that were about to break into the limelight and others who had been around for a while. It stars Christian Slater (Clarence) and Patricia Arquette (Alabama). They fall intensely in love after meeting during a late night showing of triple feature martial arts films. We discover that Alabama had been a call girl for 4 days, which leads to Clarence killing her pimp and them ending up with a large supply of someone else’s drugs and on the run; a classic tale of lovers on flight.

The supporting cast features Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, and James Gandolfini. Walken only appears for about ten minutes, but it is the best 10 minutes of his career. He plays a Sicilian Mafia boss in what is one of my favorite scenes of all time. He interrogates Clarence’s father Clifford (played by Dennis Hopper). Walken is a sharply dressed, tanned, intelligent and softly spoken psychopath. Clifford sees the writing on the walk and decides to go out with a bang by telling them a story that would be most offensive in a long lasting and durable way. Words cannot do justice to the brilliance of this scene – just watch it!

This film is mostly described as a dark romantic-comedy. On reflection, I think this movie (and most of Tarantino’s other films) could be best described with the literary term ‘magical realism’. It displays some aspects of human life, but exaggerates them and creates a world that is more intense and colorful than our own. Even while violence and killing is going on, perfect dialogues take place: too perfect to ever take place in reality. Tarantino creates fantasy worlds, and while his worlds can often be excessively violent and sinister, the world of True Romance is lighter and more beautiful than his others.

The greatest irony and the comedy in the film is the despite the uniqueness and the intensity of the events that went on Alabama maintains a zen "That's the way it goes" attitude; that ultimately human will has nothing to do with determining one's fate and whatever happens was always going to happen.  Yet at the same time the beauty of True Romance is that despite the futility, human beings fight for what they value the most: love. 

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