True Romance * * * * *
Director: Tony Scott.
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino.
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Bronson Pinchot, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, James Gandolfini, Samuel L. Jackson.
To fund his directorial debut “Reservoir Dogs“, Quentin Tarantino unfortunately had to sell his script for True Romance and as good a job as director Tony Scott does here, you can’t help but wonder what might have been had Tarantino been given the chance to helm it himself.
Shy and lonely comic store clerk Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) can’t believe his luck when he meets doting Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) in his local cinema. What’s more, she shares all his interests and the two fall madly in love. There is one small problem however, as Alabama is actually a prostitute and still under the control of her abusive pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman). Taking it upon himself to pay Drexl a visit Clarence then finds himself high-tailing it with Alabama and a suitcase full of cocaine which invites the attention of gangsters, cops and Hollywood producers.
If you can imagine this film being shot in the same split-time frame structure that “Pulp Fiction” had, then this would give you an idea of how Tarantino intended this to look. His original screenplay was certainly layered in this way, with the characters appearing then reappearing at different times throughout the film. Sadly, we’ll never get to see this, but it doesn’t matter very much, as this is still an excellent ultraviolent foray into Tarantino’s criminal underworld. What really makes this standout is his astute ear for dialogue, played out by an impressive ensemble of wonderful actors. There are so many excellent scenes (and performances) it’s hard to pick a favourite. Crime boss Don Vincenzo (Christopher Walken) and Clarence’s dad Clifford (Dennis Hopper) having a tete-a-tete over the historical inter-racial relationship between the Moors and Sicilians and Clarence’s confrontation with wild-eyed, white rastafarian pimp Drexl being just a couple of numerous quality ones. Added to which, there’s a brief but brilliant turn from Brad Pitt as a stoner flatmate, who uses all the toilet paper and has a liking for beer and cleaning products and James Gandolfini as a cold, sadistic hitman. Like I said, there’s too many to mention. Influenced by previous ‘lovers on the lam’ films such as, “Bonnie & Clyde” and “Badlands” but most notably like “Wild at Heart” with it’s numerous violent confrontations and it’s array of colourful characters. Holding it’s own against any one of them. I’m not director Tony Scott’s biggest admirer but his hyperkinetic style actually suits the pace and explosive nature of this story and it’s characters and he actually compliments Tarantino’s writing.
Stylish, gripping, violent, profane and endlessly quotable. What more do you expect when sitting down to a Tarantino flick? He may not have directed it but it still stands as one of his finest.