As you may already know, The Sugar Club is hosting #TarantinoWeek at their vibrant venue. Such classics as Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction have already graced their big screen, but what better movie to finish the week, than with Tarantino’s most personal – True Romance. If you’re a true QT geek and fanboy then you already know that this film embodies all the director’s obsessions – cinema, television, comic books, music – and Tony Scott’s wild visual style captures all these passions perfectly. Reminiscent of classic Bonnie & Clyde capers, drenched in pop-culture dressing, True Romance is Tarantino’s “Great American Novel” projected onto the big screen.
True Romance is in the style of Elmore Leonard. Down and out criminals with gutter vernacular that is conveyed so naturally. It’s a road movie, that takes some slight inspirations from Larry McMurtry’s 1972 novel, All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers. Leonard and McMurtry are only the tip of the iceburg for QT’s pop cultural references here. Rockabilly, Star Trek, Kung Fu cinema and of course, Elvis, join a long influential list. However, all these kitschy nods do not take away from the story, the dialogue and the slick action that is enhanced by QT and Scotts cross breeding. Scott himself had a great run of dynamic and energetic action movies in the early ninties that were hits at the box office. His visual style was a lot tamer then, until he was let off the leash and went all LSD with later films (Man On Fire, Domino). The director was essentailly faithful to QT’s script, besides deciding to take a more linear approach and give it a happy ending.
The plot is your basic “shoot em’ up” on the run action flick, but it’s the sharp dialogue and characters that keep audiences invested during Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama’s (Patricia Arquette) journey. The ensemble cast is among the best of the nineties – Walken, Hopper, Kilmer, Jackson, Oldman, Gandolfini, Pitt – it’s sad to think that today it would be impossible to get this caliber of actors together without it becoming some form of self parody. The best scene of the movie, The Sicilian scene, is so perfectly written, acted, shot, that it has gone down in Hollywood history as one of the best and Tarantino’s proudest moment. And in terms of the story it elevates the danger to boiling point and we begin to care even more about these two lovebirds.
Besides from being QT’s most autobiographical movie, True Romance, doesn’t share the same watershed effect that Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction had. It wasn’t an indie runaway. It was a studio production with executives breathing down their necks. As far as Hollywood action flicks go, True Romance soars, surpassing the contemporary genre films of its time. For all its adolescent fantasies, violence, and bubblegum-pop Harvard style referencing, True Romance remains true to its own universe and even portrays moments of true poignancy. Just listen to the last scene’s voice over accompanied by Hans Zimmer’s score . . . “Now tell me, am I lyin’?”