TRUE ROMANCE (1993)

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Elizabeth (spoilers!)

There’s a few things I noticed right off the bat with True Romance. First of all, how many people are in it. Here’s a rundown of the most notable cast members: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rapaport, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Samuel L. Jackson. What’s amazing about a cast as giant and great as this, the movie still feels small; it’s not bursting with giant personalities.

Second of all, since we recently watched Badlands, I noticed pretty soon how the score from True Romance sounds almost identical to that of Badlands. I mean, just check out this sample of music from Badlands and compare it to this sample of music from True Romance. Now, I haven’t really looked into this. Maybe this was intentional. I’m not sure. At first it was distracting, but then when you consider the stories of the two movies, it started to make sense that the music would be so similar. 

True Romance has a great overarching story, but it’s really a movie of scenes. It just has some great scenes. Some of the actors only appear in one or two scenes, making the movie feel like it’s almost made up of vignettes. Chris had warned me about one scene in particular, a fight between Alabama (Patricia Arquette) and Virgil (James Gandolfini). Now, it’s a scary situation for sure, but it’s really just kind of awesome. While James Gandolfini can obviously overpower Patricia Arquette, there’s no rape or sexual assault of any kind involved in the fight, making Alabama and Virgil weirdly on the same page. Because, at least physically, there’s nothing stopping Virgil from raping Alabama; it would have completely defeated her. But he doesn’t, making the fight between a giant man and a petite woman about as fair as that could get. And at first, Virgil just whales on her, not really caring that she’s a woman, beating her up like one would imagine he beats up anyone. He’s trying to get information out of her, but no matter how much he beats her, she doesn’t give in and actively provokes him. Finally, while Virgil takes a break while they both catch their breath and he goes into a pretty great monologue on the feeling of killing people, Alabama spots a corkscrew that’s fallen out of her purse and stabs Virgil in the foot. She also breaks a bust over his head, which has surprisingly little effect on him. The fight moves into the bathroom, with Virgil throwing Alabama into the glass shower. Alabama rubs soap in Virgil’s eyes, hits him over the head with the lid from the toilet bowl, then uses her lighter and hairspray to throw a fireball at Virgil’s face. When she finally gets him down, she shoots him repeatedly with his own shotgun. It’s brutal. But it’s so fucking badass. Up to this point, I was a little annoyed by Alabama, thinking she was just kind of dumb and going along with whatever the men around her said. But everything changed with that scene, and the movie got even better.

There’s really so much to say about True Romance and all of its great characters, but I just have to say that I can’t help but find my favorite character to be Floyd, played by pre-superstardom Brad Pitt. Floyd is the roommate of Dick (Michael Rapaport), who is the best friend of Clarence (Christian Slater). Floyd is a stoner; he sits on the couch, smokes weed out of a bear honey bottle, smokes Dick’s mail, tells the bad guys where the good guys are without a second thought, and always just wants someone to share a bowl with or watch TV with. He’s simple but really a fantastic character that is so funny.

I really regret only seeing True Romance now and not in high school. I would have been totally obsessed in high school. But it’s better late than never, and True Romance is too good to ever say never to.

Christopher

I’ve been wanting to watch True Romance with Elizabeth and since we just watched Badlands it seemed like the perfect time. It’s funny how I look back at my movie watching career because in hindsight I think True Romance is one of my most watched movies. When I saw it in high school I became so obsessed. It was one of those movies I saw and immediately wanted to show my parents, which in hindsight probably wasn’t a great idea because of the sex and violence and the fact that I don’t think they really enjoyed it. But to me, at that age, I thought it was so perfect. It really had everything I was looking for in a film back then: a ton of famous actors, sex and nudity, violence, and a love story. I’m glad it still holds up with my old age. I think it’s probably a little too cheesy but man it has too many good memories behind it.

I’m also glad we got to watch this ’cause I truly love James Gandolfini, he’s such a badass. I guess that doesn’t sound that great when talking about this film. Gandolfini’s character completely fucks up Patricia Arquette’s character. This scared me so much cause I really couldn’t understand hurting a woman.

Really I’m just glad that Elizabeth didn’t hate it.

OH, also I remember this time in college that this girl was so convinced that Gary Oldman’s character was played by Val Kilmer. It was one of those situations where I was trying not to sound like a dick but I was trying to tell her that she was wrong. And it really wasn’t a matter of trying to be right, I just didn’t think that someone should go through life thinking something is one way when it’s not . . . I wonder if she still thinks it’s Val Kilmer. Also it’s weird that you never see Val Kilmer’s characters face this whole movie; I wonder why he took the role.

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