True Romance (1993)


This is a fucking cool-ass movie.  The screenplay by Quentin Tarantino is an exciting blend of violence, sweetness, and dark humor.  Director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Crimson Tide) brings it to life with his usual polished style, and attracts a large ensemble of A-list performers.  Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette play Clarence and Alabama Whorley, a comic book geek and a call girl who meet serendipitously and fall instantly in love.  As Tarantino says, the title of the movie is not meant to be ironic.  An edgy action movie may not be a likely place to find true love, but I would argue that Clarence and Alabama are a more engaging and believable couple than those found in the majority of romantic comedies.

Arquette is so irresistibly charming that you just can’t tolerate the thought of bad things happening to her.  And bad things do come.  There’s a brutal fight scene between Arquette and James Gandolfini that stirred much controversy for its over-the-top violence.  It’s sublime.  The worse Gandolfini treats her, the more we want to see her win.  Arquette taps into some primal shit here, and it’s pretty frightening.  Then you have the masterful scene in the middle of the movie, where Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper sit down and deliver one of the darkest, funniest movie moments from the `90s.  You also get Brad Pitt as a silly pot head, Gary Oldman as a slimy pimp/drug dealer, and Val Kilmer channeling Elvis (though you never really see Val’s face).

I like the first half of the movie, set in desolate Detroit, better than the shinier second half, where Clarence and Alabama go to Hollywood, but it’s all good, gitchy, bloody fun.

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