Wednesday, February 26, 2014

True Romance



Why I Saw This Movie
          I know I’m probably seeing this movie 20 years to late, but people have been recommending this movie to me for years now.  And as someone who’s interested in Tarantino, I’ve always been meaning to get around to it.  But the final impetus came when a friend invited me over to watch it with him one night.

Positives
* An all star cast and great performances
* Plenty of usual Tarantino metafilm references
* Good soundtrack

Negatives
* Sadistic violence?
* Loses a point for “the bad guy should have just shot but instead decided to monologue” scene.

The Review
          It’s a funny thing when a film becomes a victim of its own success.  So many people have imitated Tarantino over the years that it’s difficult to go back and objectively evaluate his early work.  “I guess this must have seemed very innovative back in 1993,” I kept telling myself as I watched the movie.
            As with most of Tarantino’s work, the movie doesn’t really have much of a point, except the experience of the movie—and the stylized ultraviolence— is an end in itself. And the unpredictability of Tarantino keeps you on your toes the whole time.

6 out of 10 stars.  (If judged on cultural impact, I’m sure this movie would rate higher, but I’m just judging it on watchability).

Other Things I Would Talk About if I Wasn’t Limiting Myself to 100 Words
* Debating whether Tarantino’s movies are deliberately designed to be sadistic, or if he introduces brutal violence as a way of keeping the tension high in his narrative.

* Trying to evaluate this film in terms of its cultural legacy.

Links
For my other thoughts on Tarantino films see Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill, Kill Bill Further Thoughts and Kill Bill 2.
Also Tarantino has spawned legions of imitators, and the 1990s and 2000s were filled with a lot of bad Tarantino imitations.  Many of them (Go, Things to do In Denver When you’re dead, et Cetera) I saw before starting this blog or my movie Review project.  But for some Tarantino knock-offs I have blogged about, see Domino, Intermission, Kiss Kiss Bang BangLucky Number Slevin .  (Having seen True Romance, I think I understand a little bit better now what these movies were ripping off.)
            True Romance in turn borrows heavily from the Badlands (using the same music, and homage scenes to the Badlands)—my review of Badlands here.
External Links

2 comments:

Darrell Reimer said...

I haven't seen this movie since back-in-the-day, but suspect I'd be onside with most of your observations. The way I recall it, Tony Scott's pacing was still in lockstep with the 80s, so the movie bogged down. I also remember rolling my eyes at the early scenes setting up the relationship between Slater and Arquette. Now that Big Bang Theory is the most-watched show ever, I guess my attitude gave me away as being mired in the 80s as well.

Joel said...

Yes, that early part about the relationship made absolutely no sense. At least in the real world. I suppose the way to look at this movie is like Roger Ebert says--assume everything is not taking place in the real world, but in some teenage boy's fantasy world.