True Romance (1993) – Tony Scott

DK Books’ brings me a 90s classic that is on the What Else to Watch list following The Movie Book’s recommendation of Bonnie & Clyde. Directed by Tony Scott, featuring his flashy, gaudy style, and a script by Quentin Tarantino that is rife with his pop culture references and sharp dialogue, True Romance is a solid and entertaining film.

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette star as Clarence and Alabama. It’s Clarence’s birthday, and he’s going to see three Sonny Chiba movies. It’s here that he meets ‘Bama, and the two set off on a whirlwind romance that sees them brushing dangerously against criminals that are now on their trail as they head west to Hollywood.

The cast includes Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini, Saul Rubinek, Micheal Rappaport and Bronson Pinchot and a score by Hans Zimmer, and his track You’re So Cool sees a high rotation on my playlists.

The film is flashy, and Scott’s style pairs nicely with Tarantino’s writing. As Clarence and Alabama find themselves hunted, and beaten, things turn dark as they find themselves trapped between the mob, the feds, and filmmakers.

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Slater and Arquette are fun and believable in their roles, sharing a nice, natural chemistry that serves as the emotional core of the story. There are some action beats, but like most of Tarantino films, the violence is almost secondary, it’s the dialogue that is the centerpiece to the film, though in this case, Scott’s visual style is a close second.

I remember seeing this film in the theaters when it first came out, and loved the marriage of Scott and Tarantino. Scott’s visual work always kept me coming to his films, no matter the subject or story, as I simply loved how he told them. This was when the writer/director was just finding his way, and Pulp Fiction was just on the horizon.

Slater has a geek cool in this film, knowing his comics, and his kung-fu movies, and Arquette is sensual, and endearing all at the same time. Surrounding them with a fantastic supporting cast makes the film an engaging, but dark (not to mention occasionally sexist, and racist – but those are characters, and sadly are reflective of too many people at this time).

It’s a very good film, far from suitable for all viewers, and its subject matter won’t meet with the taste of all film fans. Still, this one was a fun one to dig into again, revisit, and enjoy anew.

This is a modern classic, and this and other titles can be found in DK Books’ fantastic The Movie Book, so pick one up today, and find something new or classic to watch tonight.

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