True Romance (Directors Cut)

True Romance represents one of the
earliest writing efforts by Quentin Tarantino

Some movies are note worthy not so much for their intrinsic qualities but rather for their place in cinematic history. True Romance is such a film. It represents one of the earliest writing efforts by Quentin Tarantino. It also binds together his more notable works, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction with the main female lead of Alabama (Patricia Arquette).

True Romance follows a young man Clarence (Christian Slater) on the night of his birthday. As is his custom he goes by himself to the movies, in this case a triple feature Gung Fu feature. There, he meets Alabama, a pretty young woman that he instantly takes a liking to. After the movie they hang out together and soon they are having sex. He awakens to find her sitting all alone. When he goes over to her to see what is the matter she confesses that she has been a call girl for four days and was hired by his boss as a birthday present. As it turns out, she is already in love with him. They get married the next morning and Clarence sets out to kill her pimp Drexel (Gary Oldman) in order to break any ties she has with her dubious past. As it turns out Drexel has just murdered some mob drug dealers (Samuel L. Jackson in a brief cameo) and stolen a large quantity of drugs in a suitcase worth about $5 million. When Clarence gets there he winds up on the run for murder, in possession of the drugs and now wanted by the mob. What ensues is a cross-country trek in a bid for freedom.

What holds True Romance together is not the young writing talents of Tarantino but the dedication to their craft the actors portray. Slater is well cast as the confused, lonely young man who’s life never amounted to more than being a clerk in a comic book store. When a beautiful woman like Arquette actually falls in love with him and marries him he sees a chance for his life to move into a different direction. Unfortunately it is not the direction he imagined. Arquette wears the part of the chain smoking, rough around the edges hooker with a heart of gold better than many actresses could. She commands the screen in ever scene and shows that her family is up their with the better Hollywood acting clans. The bit parts of True Romance are star studded. There is Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper , Brad Pitt and Val Kilmer in small roles that many not have many pages of lines but greatly impact the film.

The director Tony Scott does well in bringing Tarantino’s script to the screen. This is not a novice director but a seasoned veteran of such hits as Beverly Hills Cop II, Days of Thunder, The Hunger, Top Gun and Enemy of the State. As in these other films Scotts shoots the scenes in a straightforward manner, not relying upon camera tricks or subtle lighting. His approach to film making is to shoot from the hip, be hyper realistic and push the audience into confronting the situations his characters are facing. So as not to be over powering his manages to temper this film with an actual love story that almost seems to have a life apart from the action and violence. He separates the two aspects of the characters’ lives in a way that holds your attention and gives you some relief from the bloodbaths this film contains.

The disc is a plain vanilla DVD. The audio is two-channel surround with a 2.35:1 non-anamorphic video. There are no real extras on board just the film. One plus is this is the unrated extended version of True Romance not seen on cable or previous VHS tapes. If you are a Tarantino or Scott fan True Romance is a must have. If not, try True Romance anyway. True Romance is a well constructed love story wrapped in a crime drama.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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