Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Movie Review: True Romance

A relative failure at the box office, my two viewings of this film come some 20 years apart having first seen it on VHS back in my college days and then again this past weekend.  True Romance was the public's second chance to encounter Quentin Tarantino and though he didn't direct the film (that was done by Tony Scott of Top Gun and brother of Ridley Scott fame) his fingerprints are all over it and it remains memorable for its violence, dialogue and fantastic cast.

The actors involved make up a long and well known list--Christian Slater (in his best role?), Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Samuel Jackson, Chris Penn, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, and Tom Sizemore.  Looking back its fairly amazing that all these players got together in a single film and some in quite limited roles.  Despite the lack of screentime for some of these established actors, most are VERY memorable--Gary Oldman's scarred drug dealer Drexel comes to mind as does Pitt's portrayal of the stoner roommate Floyd.

The dialogue is as sharp and witty as any Tarantino film with the "Sicilian conversation" standing out and not likely to ever get green lit for film ever again as it is so far outside the realm of political correctness I'm surprised Jesse Jackson isn't still protesting to this day.

Tony Scott always was a great action director and this is no exception here.  Slater's bloody fight with Drexel is a whirlwind of blood and glass while the final Mexican standoff shootout is a cacophony of gunshots and crashing furniture.

Tony Scott and Tarantino would team up again a few years later to produce the also excellent Crimson Tide (with another stellar cast) and made a great combination for glossy, popular, smart action films.

True Romance saw many compare it to a "modern day Bonnie & Clyde".  While it doesn't have the overall impact on cinema that this older film did, it does serve as the peak of performance for Slater (who really looks every bit "young Nicholson" he was supposed to be) and the early work of one of films best dialogue artists.  Tarantino was doing Chuck Klosterman before Klosterman globbed onto it and turned it into a snarkfest.

There are worse ways to relive the '90s than watching this film and given that Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today...well, listen to some grunge and revel in the violence with a heart of gold that is this film.

No comments: