Tony Scott’s ‘True Romance’ (1993)

20Jan07

I never thought that I would make this statement, but as I watched True Romance I longed for Quentin Tarantino. Can I say it? The script was good, with the exception of that warm, fuzzy ending, but Tony Scott filmed it with absolutely no style. It looked like any other Hollywood-processed action movie, even though the characters and dialogue were so much more interesting and unique. Despite my many complaints about Q’s editing abilities, the man knows how to film his material.

OK. Maybe I shouldn’t heap too many accolades on the script, because the plot did have its problems. The majority of the film depicts a crime-filled journey precipitated by the supposed crazy love between Clarence and Alabama. However, Scott spends very little time developing that relationship, which causes him to lose buy-in from the audience for the subsequent events. I guess Scott thinks that the fairly revealing first sex scene and follow-up quickie in a phone booth take care of establishing that romantic connection, but they just aren’t giving the viewer much. Oh, except for a shot of Christian Slater’s cute butt.

Scott had a dream cast, which included Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Walken, James Gandolfini, and Gary Oldman as secondary characters. As the leads, Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are effective at not turning these characters in caricatures, but they lack any real chemistry. Scott also allowed both of them to go over the top at a couple of points in the film, most notably Patricia Arquette’s yell after she kills James Gandolfini’s character. Maybe the moment would not have been so overwrought if Scott had not used slow-motion, but either way I blame Scott. I blame Scott for the whole she-bang, a bungled execution of an interesting premise.

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