#45. True Romance (1993)
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Michael Rapaport, James Gandolfini
Once upon a time I had the pleasure of calling Tony Scott’s True Romance my all-time favorite film. It had everything I could ever possibly want in one package – violence, unique performances, humor, and romance. I’ve seen thousands of films since then, but True Romance still endures as one of my favorites, and for good reason. We follow hopelessly romantic geek Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) and a call girl named Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) as they quickly fall in love, get married, and accidentally come into the possession of a large amount of cocaine wanted by the mob. Clarence and Alabama arrange for the sale of the cocaine to a film producer in Hollywood, setting in motion the violent, inescapable drug deal of the century. True Romance, written by modern master Quentin Tarantino, is one of the most unique and bizarre romances ever put to film. Every bit of it is classic Tarantino, down to the main character loving kung-fu movies and comic books, and its use of the classic “lovers on the lamb” structure, paying homage to films like Badlands and Bonnie and Clyde. The writing is sharp, funny, and very easily builds a cast of very lovable and memorable characters. While Tarantino didn’t direct the film, Tony Scott’s handling of the material is more than competent, especially in the films sparing action scenes – which were always a specialty of the late Tony Scott. True Romance has a palpable sense of adventure to it, feeling far larger in scope than other films of the same nature. Scott’s direction of the very talented cast is top notch, bringing out some incredibly quirky, bizarre performances from the cast – namely Gary Oldman’s gangster pimp Drexl, Brad Pitt’s hilarious couch-potato stoner Floyd, Val Kilmer’s ghostly apparition of Elvis Presley, and Christopher Walken’s violent, unpredictable Don Vincenzo Coccotti. Our two leads in Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are perfect for the film – their chemistry is immediate from the very beginning, and sells the entire film from the get-go. Slater’s turn as the geeky Elvis Presley obsessed Clarence is charming and adorable, but also strong and goal-oriented, and Patricia Arquette’s hooker with a heart of gold Alabama is wonderfully funny and naive throughout. Without the memorable performances from the film’s entire cast, True Romance would have been almost immediately forgotten to time. The film’s best (and most famous) moment comes in the scene shared between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, which features one of the funniest, most tense exchanges of dialogue I’ve ever seen – it’s classic Tarantino. True Romance is one of the most unique romantic experiences you’ll ever have, but the journey is one you’ll never forget. It’s violent, it’s funny, and it’s charming as hell – it’s a must-see for any Quentin Tarantino fan.