TRUE ROMANCE (1993)
Director – Tony Scott
Writer – Quentin Tarantino
Starring – Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman
“If there’s one thing this last week has taught me, it’s better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.”
True Romance is an iconic film for me. Released in 1993 it seemed to be a collaboration between some of the greatest Hollywood influences of the time. With Christian Slater, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Patricia Arquette, Samuel Jackson and James Gandolfini the main players in a straightforward story.
We open with a chance meeting between Alabama and Clarence. Clarence (Christian Slater) is a loner, a nerd, comic book geek and general bum. What appears to be a high level of good fortune turns out not to be quite as it seems. Following a Sonny Chiba triple bill date followed by pie a whirlwind romance quickly blossoms Clarence and Alabama (Patricia Arquette) quickly marry.
The real fun starts when Clarence discovers Alabama has a dark and traumatic past. His sole mission of redemption backfires a little and he mistakenly enters the underworld. Stealing from a drug dealer is never a good idea, even accidentally. The pursuit of trying to make a profit on stolen drugs is an even bigger mistake. Can Clarence make a quick profit or is he risking too much?
Written by Quentin Tarantino, this story is both simple and involving. Director Tony Scott gains good performances from his cast with big names hitting the mark. My favourite scene is the interrogation of Clifford Worley by Vicenzo Coccotti, a match of acting skills between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken in roles each seems born to play. As usual, Tarantino designs his story to be told out of sequence though Scott had his version edited sequentially. The QT version is out there and worth watching.
What can be found in True Romance is memorable scenes and dialogue. QT has mastered these throughout his filmography of writing and directing and his influence and impact is clear: writing characters who live in the real world in unreal situations. It’s not that his characters simply visit the cinema, but that they watch some random, real, 70s martial arts films. I find this interesting, mixing reality and movie worlds together. I often wonder how much of Quentin Tarantino’s characters are versions of him he’d like to be.
The old Street Fighter films of the 70’s Japanese cinema are movies QT himself would watch. In later works, he’d use Sonny Chiba as a character, could this be his way of living the dream of watching a hero and then meeting him? Beginning with vicariously living through Clarence Worley.
Aside from good direction, Tony Scott had a knack of selecting great music during his music. The use of “Viens Mallika Sous le Dome Epais” and Hans Zimmer’s theme “You’re So Cool” in particular seem so suited to the tone of the story.
All in, I thoroughly enjoy True Romance at every viewing. The combination of great writing, good direction and some quality moments always hits the mark every time. It’s one of those films that can be seen multiple times without losing any quality.
Gary Dugdale lives in Newcastle, UK and can be found on Twitter @Gary_Dugdale