True Romance review by The Grim Ringler

True Romance

Ah, I remember it as if it were yesterday, the year of the kill-crazy couples. We had Natural Born Killers, True Romance, Kalifornia, and even Love & A .45. I can’t quite say why but for some reason we all got hooked on some sort of Bonnie and Clyde syndrome, both loving and hating these archetypal characters that kept popping up. How come no one’s made a gay Bonnie and Clyde? Maybe it’s time. Who can say? But while Natural Born Killers got all the ink back in the early nineties, it was True Romance that really played on the heart of the Bonnie and Clyde mystique, giving us two lovable yet screwed up kids and the world that was against them. You couldn’t really say you were pulling for Mickey and Mallory of NBK, I mean, they were villains through and through, the only good thing about them was a gift for comedic timing, whereas Clarence and Alabama, well, they’re just mixed up kids and aren’t all that bad. Well they sorta are, but what they want is just to be together, to get away from everyone and everything and to make sweet buttery love on some beach. The funny thing was that both True Romance and NBK are products of the same mind – Quentin Tarantino, but it’s interesting to note how two stories from the same mind, with similar plots, can become completely different films when adapted by two different types of directors. Oliver Stone turned NBK into his love/hate letter to America and the media culture vultures our bloodlust has given birth to. It was his great big screw off to everybody and it shows. It’s a great movie but it’s almost like you can feel Stone’s breath on your neck as you watch, daring you to like it and making you feel bad if you do. Where True Romance is just a movie, nothing more, nothing less. The most is has to say is Love Can Conquer All. It’s weird, it’s violent, and it’s pretty dark, but in the end it’s romantic, and that’s the difference. Tony Scott made a film that was meant to entertain, not to preach, and while its arguable that NBK is the better Film, hands down True Romance is the better film, one you can come back to again and again and enjoy to no end, where you can’t really do that a whole lot with NBK.

Essentially True Romance is, as I said, a love story. Clarence is a lonely nerd that works at a comic book store and goes to Kung Fu movies by himself. Alabama is a call girl sent to ‘bump into’ Clarence at the movies and show him a good time. But as the night progresses and they begin to reveal more and more of themselves to one another the two start to fall madly in love, culminating in a post-coitus revelation by Alabama of who she really is and how she came to run into Clarence. Instead of becoming angered though, Clarence is happy, happy to have gotten to spend such a wonderful night with this incredible woman, and suddenly they realize they are I love. Things aren’t so cut and dry though as, after an abrupt marriage and mutual tattoo session, Clarence, after a conference with the King (a fictitious Elvis old Clarence tends to see from time to time) he decides he has to ‘settle up’ with ‘Bama’s ex boss, a lovely pimp who is very white but thinks he is very black, and therein lies the trouble. Clarence, with more than a touch of luck, is able to dispatch Drexl and escape with what he thinks are Alabama’s things but that turn out to be a suitcase full of cocaine and suddenly they are on the run, wanted by the police for murder and now the mob for stealing their coke so off they head to California, hoping to sell the coke and live off the money. Things aren’t so easy though as the mob (who knew there was mob in Detroit?) discovers where the young lovers have escaped to and are hot on their trail. So the movie suddenly turns into a game of chicken between three factions – Alabama and Clarence, the police (who think the coke came from a dirty cop), and the mob, everything leading to an intense Mexican standoff that is still something to behold even now, years after the movie’s release.

The fact is that True Romance, while very well written, feels like a movie, and all of the stars, while great, almost feel as if they are the bondo holding it all together. I mean, if you don’t give a damn for Clarence and Alabama then the movie falls apart and you have an ensemble of scenery chewers simply trying to out eat one another. But you DO care for the central characters, and that’s thanks to the skill and chemistry between Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette as the doomed couple. They are anti-heroes, yes, but they are so in love and their intentions so pure that you root for them despite the bodies they leave in their wake. And director Tony Scott does an admirable job with the film but he turns it all into an action film and while it works, it just BARELY works. This is a good film though. It has some brilliant dialogue, some superb acting, and it puts an interesting spin on a pretty well worn plot. If nothing else it’s worth watching just to see the likes of Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper try to out-act one another. Great stuff.

And any fan of the film could hardly ask for more from the producers of this special edition, I mean, they put everything you could ask for and more on this thing, putting it on equal footing with the other recent Tarantino DVD releases. You have three fascinating commentaries (on from QT himself), a mountain of deleted and extended footage (they cut out a brief Jack Black scene and Patty Arquette nudity, good god!), and to me, most interesting of all, some mini-commentaries by the bit-players. And it’s a great idea. Instead of having these actors sit in on an entire viewing of the film (a highly unlikely idea) they got them to sit down for their parts, and you get some great stuff from them. I mean, truly, this is all you could ask for a special edition, and it’s nice to see that the people involved actually put some effort into making it something special.

If you are a Tarantino geek this is a must own. Not nearly as satisfying as the films he made himself, this is still a pretty good movie. Having seen it more than my fair share of times it’s hard to sympathize too much with Clarence and ‘Bama, but I still found myself getting caught up in the mania and loving every minute of it. Pretty fun movie kids.


8 out of 10 Jackasses

blog comments powered by Disqus