Tuesday, January 09, 2007

True Romance (1993)

True Romance (1993)

If the Scott brothers were the Hardy Boys, Ridley Scott would be Frank and Tony Scott would be Joe. Frank was thoughtful and more restrained, Joe was more physical and impulsive, and the films of Ridley and Tony are kind of the same. I'm not saying one is better than the other (both have made some great films), just that both filmmakers have consistent stylistic differences.

True Romance is a Tony Scott film written by non other than Quentin Tarantino (his first screenplay). If that makes you think it's a frenetic crime thriller with bizarre situations, quirky characters, and sharp dialog... you'd be correct. True Romance is the story of Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) who hit it off after an encounter at a Sonny Chiba triple feature and promptly get married. Alabama abandons her life as a call girl, but Clarence is not satisfied until he confronts her pimp (Gary Oldman). Violence ensues, and Clarence winds up with a suitcase full of cocaine. Seeing this as an opportunity, he and his new wife flee across the country to Hollywood to hook up with an old friend (Michael Rapaport) with the intention of selling off the drugs and starting new lives. Unfortunately, the drug dealers get on their trail; the police and a movie mogul (Saul Rubinek) and his assistant (Bronson Pinchot) also get involved as the film heads inexorably towards it's bloody climax.

I'm not the biggest fan of the crime genre, but this one is really good and I enjoyed it immensely. The best thing it has going for it is undoubtedly the script, which is sharp and funny and full of improbable and over the top scenes populated by likable (albeit violent) characters. The dialogue heavy nature of the film means Tony Scott is relatively restrained; he successfully manages an impressive ensemble cast - besides those already mentioned, there's also Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Tom Sizemore, James Gandolfini, Brad Pitt, and also Samuel L. Jackson and Val Kilmer in brief cameos. Slater and Arquette and their strange romance are the heart of the movie though, and I don't think the two of them have ever been better. Bronson Pinchot was the only distraction - he's hilarious, but I kept thinking of Balki from Mypos... One final note on the music by Hans Zimmer, which is excellent - in particular, the cheerful main theme which is somehow both appropriate and out of place at the same time.

So, to bookend my irrelevant opening paragraph, I'll finish by saying that it's a Tony Scott film, so it's stylish, good looking, and frenzied. It's also very much a Quentin Tarantino film. People who find either filmmaker's work appealing will definitely enjoy this, and people who don't ought to consider checking it out if they're not averse to violent crime capers.

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