True Romance (1993), often thought of as part of the unofficial trilogy along with Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, was spawned from the...ooh shall we say unorthodox to be politically correct...mind of Quentin Tarantino, with the one difference being he did not direct it but sold those rights to the inimitable Tony Scott (R.I.P) to direct. It is probably fair to say that had Tarantino been director we would likely have had a very different, way more explosive film, but the one we got was still a scintillating crime caper with the benefits of a bigger budget than Tarantino would have had at his disposal yet with all the hallmarks of a Tarantino classic. A huge all-star cast is also present with the likes of Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Brad Pitt, Samuel L. Jackson, yet even those with only a small amount of screen time are not just there to make up the numbers with a loaning of their name but help to make each scene pretty much a work of art - there was a distinct absence of boring bridge scenes here.
Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) is a young man working in a comic store but is clearly destined for greater things. Alone on his birthday watching back to back Sonny Chiba martial arts films in his local theatre he is waylaid by klutzy Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) who completely by accident (uh huh) dumps all her popcorn over him. One thing leads to another and the two fall instantly in love and are immediately married. The only glitch is that Alabama was up until that moment a call girl and Clarence wants to sever all ties from her pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman). Some violence ensues and Clarence accidentally escapes with a suitcase of uncut cocaine instead of her possessions. What a fortunate turn of events. The happy couple set off to Hollywood to make a quick sale and start their new life together unaware they are being tailed by the original, rather unforgiving owners - can Clarence and Alabama outsmart everyone and escape unscathed or will the gangsters on their tail catch up to them with devastating consequences?
Alabama's thoughts on Clarence - "You are so cool, you are so cool, you are so cool" also happen to mirror my own sentiments for this film. Practically everything about this film makes me smile with the ridiculously whirlwind but completely sweet relationship between Clarence and Alabama which is without a doubt true romance at its rawest, the array of weird and wonderful characters and ultimately the high amount of gratuitous bloody violence and somewhat coarse language (which admittedly glorifies crime to a certain extent, hence the 18 rating) that although sometimes having a truly shocking element to it (actually those bits don't make me smile so much as be morbidly fascinated) more often is a slightly tongue-in-cheek, utterly over the top spectacle, positively oozing with outrageous style. But, it is really the way every scene is treated with the utmost care to slowly build up either the humour or the tension and drama with some truly witty dialogue à la Tarantino (so basically offensive and as socially unacceptable as you can get but with an overriding sense of inexplicable coolness) and the occasional scene stealing soliloquy which have such amazing undertones that you cannot deny the intelligence of the script.
There is such a melee of standout characters and iconic scenes that it is hard to know where to begin in describing the class of this film. There were so many brilliantly conceived scenes but easily one of the most memorable is between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken with Clarence's father Clifford Worley (Hopper) being interrogated by hit man Vincenzo Coccotti (Walken), one of the most unsettling characters in the whole film despite only being in this one scene. "I'm the Anti-Christ. You got me in a vendetta kind of mood. You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you. My name is Vincent Coccotti" - clearly vying for best movie villain with his creepy Sicilian drawl and icy calm-before-the-storm demeanour Coccotti is played chillingly well by Walken. The rather harsh intensity to this scene with a horrible ironic twist at the end is oddly juxtaposed with the beautiful background melody of "Sous le dôme épais où le blanc jasmin" from the opera Lakmé totally belying the brutality of events unfurling. With sublime acting with Walken and Hopper playing off each other this scene is in its own twisted way a thing of beauty.
The list of awesome characters reads like a bottomless pit. There is no good guy, but Clarence is amazing as the next closest thing. Christian Slater slides right into the role as the clever, wily, resourceful and unflappable Clarence with a penchant for Hawaiian shirts and the dazzling chemistry between him and Patricia Arquette, who plays the soft spoken Southern belle whose deceptive sweetness hides a rather kick-ass chick, really makes the film work as without true romance the film would have fallen flat on its face. Obviously creating a man after his own heart, Tarantino gives Clarence an almost unhealthy interest in Elvis Presley, and again, for such a tiny amount of screen time the character of the Mentor (Val Kilmer), that uncannily resembles the King himself, plays a surprisingly important role in focusing Clarence's mind. Brad Pitt is simply hilarious as a drug addled slouch, as is Gary Oldman, barely recognisable as the dreadlocked, scar-faced wannabe pimp although I would have to question the use of Samuel L. Jackson that almost felt he was there as a favour more than to contribute anything substantial to the film and his talents could have been put to much better use. But really with all these amazingly conceived but very different characters they are the support acts for our main focus on the young lovebirds and their quest for happiness.
The soundtrack is a bit of an odd one with a mix of classic rock and pop from Billy Idol, Elvis Presley, Robert Palmer and Aerosmith to some rather sickly romantic songs (though many would probably disagree with me) with Charles & Eddie, John Waite and Chris Isaak warbling away as well as a spontaneous use of an operatic excerpt all handpicked to suit the mood of each scene but the standout piece of music "You're So Cool" composed by Hans Zimmer used throughout the film at opportune moments actually transforms the mood of the film whenever it filters in, whether it be for a calmer, more romantic scene or something entirely different, by slowing the tempo dramatically but in a strangely uplifting way which is an extremely interesting effect. To get even weirder this song is a cover of German composer Carl Orff's "Gassenhauer" which is actually a reworking from the lutenist Hans Neusiedler's composition from 1536 - say what! To me this tune feels in stark contrast to the rather brutal nature of the film with its percussive sound which is probably, and I'm no musical expert, produced by a xylophone or glockenspiel that gives a weird dreamlike experience as if you're luxuriating on a tropical beach which I guess is the final goal for our antiheroes Clarence and Alabama.
So, with guns, violence, bad language, violence, crime, romance, violence and enough dry wit to fill up a football stadium True Romance is almost a Tarantino classic with the exception that it has had a Tony Scott makeover that whilst makes for truly exhilarating entertainment loses certain Tarantino charms. A simply superb and intelligent script from Tarantino at the start of his career when his style was new and refreshing in the crime genre this film, through Scott's direction, was executed brilliantly with some outstanding acting, some scenes filled with excruciating tension, scenes of extreme violence actually done with a tongue-in-cheek style to dilute the raw horror and fantastically fast paced action and plot development that all still stand up to the tests of time. It may have been more a symbolic exploration into the American dream through an unorthodox method rather than an exercise in realism but do not let the rather speedy plot development and exuberant characters spoil your fun, simply hang on for the ride.
The only shame for me was that the movie being now nearly 20 years old does not have any extras on the DVD at all, but on the bright side as soon as you pop the DVD in the film starts without having to sit through piracy warnings (where did I put my peg leg) and dozens of trailers for movies you really don't want to see. This is also the director's cut version so the film contains several extended scenes that weren't seen in the theatrical release. Fans of Tarantino will undoubtedly have already seen this film I'm sure, but for those looking to get into his work this is a great way to ease yourself in to his mind-set with a less flashy direction from Scott than Tarantino would have unleashed on the world, and also simply anyone that loves a good crime caper full of antiheroes and villains this is the film for you. Highly recommended.
Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) is a bit of a loner, who has 2 loves in his life, Elvis Presley and Kung Fu flicks. Whilst celebrating his birthday, with his traditional trip to a cinema, he meets Alabama (Patricia Arquette) and they hit it off in spectacular fashion. After a night of talking and passion, they rush off and get married, and not even when he finds out that she was a call girl paid for by his boss as a present, does it change the way he feels. As the new Mr. and Mrs. Worley settle down to married life, Clarence learns about the way her pimp, Drexl (Gary Oldman), treated the call girls, and with anger building up inside him decides to pay him a visit. In a bloody fight, Clarence murders Drexl and mistakenly leaves with a suitcase packed full of cocaine.
Panicking that he may get caught for the murder, they leave town and after a brief visit to his father, Clifford (Dennis Hopper), they travel across country to Hollywood to stay with Clarence's old friend, Dick Ritchie (Michael Rapaport), an aspiring actor. With the help of Dick, they plan to sell the drugs to a big Hollywood producer, but unknown to them they are being tracked down as the drugs belonged to an Italian gangster who wants them back.
True Romance comes from the pen of Quentin Tarantino, and like his other screenplays, it is full of action and violence which at times over shadows a reasonably good story. What makes this film slightly different is that it has been directed by Tony Scott, who has tried to focus on the story rather than the violence. Although the story is a bit far fetched and the ending seems to pander to the audience rather than staying true to the story, the film is still very enjoyable. Most of the enjoyment comes through the brilliant performances from Slater and Arquette, but the plethora of stars that make up the supporting cast all put in great performances.
As you would expect with a Tarantino movie, there is a lot of violence in this film. With numerous shootings and physical beatings, the number of overly graphical scenes is very high. At times, these scenes come over as quite disturbing, as personally I don't get pleasure from seeing a woman getting viciously beaten. But one scene of violence which does work is the shoot out, which is a great bit of cinematography and is not overly graphical.
In the lead role of Clarence Worley is Christian Slater (Pump up the Volume) who is really enjoyable as the hero of the film. Although he does a very good job in this film, at times his character is a bit inconsistent as he goes from shy loner to Mr. Confident with no real explanation. Opposite Slater is Patricia Arquette (Ed Wood) who again puts in an enjoyable performance but also suffers from a character who changes to dramatically in the film. Amongst the notable names who appear in the film you have Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman,, Chris Penn and Samuel L. Jackson who all provide excellent performances no matter how much screen time they get. Probably the one which sticks out the most is Gary Oldman as Drexl the pimp and drugs dealer. Casting Oldman as a white man who acts as if he's black is quite funny.
The film is directed by Tony Scott (Top Gun) and has done a very good job, all but a little bit violent. Saying that, he has tried to make the story the focus of the film, rather than let the violence take center stage. Under the hands of a less experienced director, this film could have gone down the route of an all out blood bath, which in my opinion would not have made for a good film. The soundtrack to the film is mainly very soulful but just at the right moments it picks up and becomes heavier for the actions scenes. There is a very beautiful piece of music which runs through out the movie (sounds like it is played on a glockenspiel), if anyone knows what it is called, please leave a comment telling me what it is.
Christian Slater .... Clarence Worley
Patricia Arquette .... Alabama Whitman (Worley)
Dennis Hopper .... Clifford Worley
Val Kilmer .... Elvis
Bronson Pinchot .... Elliot Blitzer
Gary Oldman .... Drexl Spivey
Brad Pitt .... Floyd
Christopher Walken .... Vincenzo Coccotti
Michael Rapaport .... Dick Ritchie
James Gandolfini .... Virgil
Samuel L. Jackson .... Big Don
Length: 121 mins
"Audio Commentary" - There is a choice of 3 different audio commentaries. The first one comes from Slater and Arquette and sadly to say this is a waste of space. Most of the time they don't say anything and when they do open their mouths it is not really very informative. Next we have the director Tony Scott, which as you would expect is much more informative and explains things such as the casting and choice of camera angles. Then we have Tarantino, which is more of a rambling about how the film came about rather than what is happening on screen, to be honest this was a disappointment.
"Directors Storyboard track" - This was unusual but a bit pointless. As the film plays you get too see the storyboards appear in the bottom left hand side of the screen. This just felt like unnecessary padding and I can't see the use of it, myself.
"Screenplay Viewer with Storyboards" - This is a feature for your PC, where you can watch the film in the top half of the screen, with the story boards in the bottom left, and the script on the right. Again I found this to be padding and of no real use.
"Behind The Scenes" - This is exactly what you would expect, with a mixture of interviews and behind the camera footage. Always enjoyable but doesn't really reveal much. This does have the unusual feature that every now and then a little heart appears on the screen and if you press enter it shows you more behind the scenes footage. Although a bit quirky, I have no idea as to why they did it this way.
"Selective Commentaries" - This is where we see some of the scenes with commentaries coming from Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Michael Rapaport and Brad Pitt. This is really hit or miss, as Hopper doesn't offer much of any interest, where as Pitt is very good.
"Deleted Scenes" - There are 11 scenes which run for about 30 minutes and offer a range of extended scenes and completely new ones. All of which can be viewed with or without an audio commentary from the director.
"Alternate Ending" - This is how Tarantino wanted the film to end and is a mixture of footage and story boards. You can watch this with or without audio commentaries from either Tarantino or Scott.
"Additional Extra Features" - I've grouped this together as it is all the unnecessary stuff they bung in too just pad out the section. You get the usual photo gallery, 2 TV features, the trailer, an original promotional feature and filmographies for the cast and crew.
Conclusion & Rating
True Romance has me in two minds as to whether I really like it. As a gritty action drama, it works really well and holds your attention, but some of the over graphical violence puts me off. I suppose I would recommend this film purely because it has so much more to it rather than just the violence. It has a very good cast, who all put in very good performances, the sound track is great and it does keep your attention. The DVD package in itself is a bit hit and miss, as some of the extras work really well but a lot seem like unnecessary padding and at £19.99 on Amazon I would definitely recommend you shop around for this.
The scene on the roller coaster was filmed over two days. 'Michael Rapaport (I)' unfortunately has a fear of roller coasters, and suffers from acute motion sickness, facts which no one knew during the first day's filming. By the second day, the crew was prepared for this, and they gave him something to calm his nerves. As a result, one can easily tell from cut to cut on which day a particular moment was filmed by watching his face in the background. His expression goes back and forth from apprehensive and nauseous (the first day) to bland and oblivious of his surroundings (the second day). - courtesy of IMDB
Normally I'm not a fan of the crime/gangster thriller movie like this one unless of course they are very good. Normally I go more for a comedy but this being a Tarantino movie there is some dark humour in there amongst all the swearing and violence. Of course it's got romance but it's unlike your usual mushy affair and does put a twist on the normal romantic clichéd formula. For the most part I enjoyed this movie but found it often quite violent and over the top. Plus it's a simple plot that has been done many times. Basically someone annoys some hard people by stealing something and they go after them to get back what is rightfully theirs. I'm not saying it's a bad movie by no means as in fact it's excellent throughout and kept me wanting to watch if further unlike some. It's just I know some people reading this aren't going to like the sometimes violent nature. Swearing is constant throughout but it's bearable and like usual you get used to it after a while. So the story starts on the birthday of one half of the lead role. Clarence is a guy working in a comic book store. He doesn't really get out much is slightly obsessed with Elvis. He meets a girl in the cinema and they get on real well and a passionate night follows etcetera. Of course not everything is how it appears as you soon find out. Here you get to see the funny and cool character Clarence plays through the excellent performance by Christian Slater. He manages to deliver lines perfectly with a dry wit and is a very believable actor and often overlooked as a great. Alabama (Patricia Arquette) is a call girl but leaves the job after falling for Clarence after said night. Clarence finds out about Alabama's past and it cant stop playing on his mind about her violent pimp so he goes to get her stuff and to kill him in the process. This is where the rest of the movie begins so I won't give too much away even though it's tempti
ng with the amount of stuff to talk about. Throughout the movie it's clear this is a well-written piece and the dialogue is often quite heavy but clever like many films involving Quentin Tarantino. There is an underlying theme of the love and bond between the two main stars all the way to the end. Elvis features heavily, well not the Elvis. Some of the funniest moments are the ones featuring Brad Pitt as a complete stoner named Floyd. Dennis Hopper plays the part of Clarence's father Clifford and is utterly superb and his experience and quality shine through. At this point Christopher Walken makes an appearance as bad boy Vincenzo. What follows is one of my favourite scenes in any movie and I'm sure most of you will appreciate it. Dennis Hopper is totally convincing as a guy that has already come to terms with the inevitable so tries to have one last laugh. It's very tense and makes great viewing. Toward the end you encounter one of the best stand off scenes and one to rival or possibly better Reservoir Dogs. It's a fitting finale to what was an enjoyable action packed few hours. Of course this being a romantic movie everything works out in the end and everyone, well not everyone, lives happily ever after. So what didn't I like about it? Well the story was hardly original and is a plot a child could come up with. However it saves itself by delivering it so well and having a story at all. At the beginning there is a narrative from one of the main characters so its obvious they are going to live through whatever comes their way during the rest of the film. Also Gary Oldman who of course plays a bad ass is slightly underused but this is probably down to his phoney accent. So just a few little things and nothing is fundamentally wrong, at least nothing to make it a bad-viewing experience. It seems the director Tony Scott went all out with an all-star cast in a relatively unknown movie. Everyone is
exc ellent and the whole thing is professional and there aren't any problems with angles, actor's lines or the kind of stuff you expect to notice as a little shabby in budget movies. Val Kilmer is in it but you will find it hard to work out whom he plays because you don't ever get to see him. So to sum up it's an enjoyable movie with a weak storyline saved by some intelligent script, top-notch acting and an added bonus of humour. True Romance elevates itself above your average Saturday night action movie. I'm glad I bought this even though my main reason was I had seen it before and it was going cheap on DVD as I sure did enjoy it once again and it's a good addition to my collection. Unfortunately the DVD format hasn't really added anything to this in any way apart from the expected scene selection.
It's difficult to explain what makes True Romance so great. It's plot is unrealistic, there is some lack of continuity in the plot and the direction is at times, poor. But despite these huge faults it manages to be really, really great. True Romance has it all. Despite the fact the plot is completely unrealistic, it's well developed and the plot twists add to the film, unlike so many films where they detract by being over-complicated. The characters are well sculpted and stay true to their roles throughout the film. You get the impression that Alabalma and Clarnce are truly in love, epitimised by the final gun-fight. Unlike so many soppy Hollywood films where there is no chemistry between the central characters, Clarence and Alabalma genuinely seem in love. This can be attributed to great acting. Any film that has a cast including Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Samuel L Jackson, Val Kilmer, James Gandolphini and Brad Pitt (as a stoner) has to be good. While Slater and Arquette play the central characters, the other major Hollywood actors play cameos. Special mention has to go to Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken for possibily the best scene in film history. The story, like so many others, brings all aspects together at the end, in a big gunfight. Unlike most other films though, only 3 characters survive. The script in True Romance is second to none. It doesn't ignore the idosyncrasies that everyone has. A perfect example of this is when Clarence asks Alabalma to go buy beer. He says "I think theres a 7-11 around here somewhere, its hard to tell you what to buy 'cos different places have different brands." The attention to detail is superb throughout. The film works on many levels. On first impressions you would think it was a straight-out action film, but view it closer a
nd you begin to see that it's more of a love story, or about how one incident can affect your whole life. The music between and during scenes is provided by the impeccable Hans Zimmer, and adds atmosphere instead of being distaction. The simple xylophone beats work extremely well. The shots of Detroit at the beginning envoke a dark, dirty atmosphere of the city and then the narrative kicks in... Alabalma provides snippets of her thoughts near the start and end of the film, which help the viewer identify with her character. True Romance is a cult classic and deservedly so. The film oozes cool. Go see it. NOW.
always have... always will! That is by far the best line in the movie! And one of my favourite catch phrases! Ok lets get the negative bit over first! THE EXTRAS ARE PANTS!! They are so pants that there aren't any - oh except for an interactive menu - wow!! So don't expect loads of Taratino style featurettes, cos ya ain't getting none people! Now for the postive bits!!! This movie is typically Taratino, great characters, violence and fantastico storyline. We follow the life of Clarence Wurley (christian slater), who is an avid Elvis fan - so avid he thinks Elvis talks to him and is his mentor! he also works in a comic store and spends his birthday watching a triple kung-fu special at the local cinema! That's when he meets Alabama (Patricia Arquette), (who unbeknown to him has been paid to bump into him and give him a night of passion). Clarence and Alabama click immediately and Alabama falls in love with Clarence. The morning after she confesses all and quits her job as a call girl. Clarence and Alabama elope the very next day, and Clarence now has to sort out Alabama's pimp! Let's just say it doesn't end too good, and Clarence ends up in a lot of trouble with a suitcase full of Cocaine to offload!! So road trip to California to offload the Coke to friends of a friend, but off course nothing is that easy! Clarence soon finds himself caught up with the mob! That's all i'm gonna say on the story! Don't wanna spoil nothing! With a superb cast including: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt and Gary Oldman this is one film not to miss!!!! Look out for the scene with Dennis Hopper (Clarence's Dad) and Christopher Walken - superb!!!
True Romance is considered by many a cult film of the nineties. It wasn't seen by mnay on it's theatrical release but has since found it's audience on video. The film is a warped love story that features two lovers (Slater and Arquette) who end up with a siutcase of cocaine and journey to LA to sell it to a big movie producer. Problem is that the cocaine belongs to a mob boss and he wants it back. The script was written by Quentin Tarantino and his style is evident in the film even though he didn't direct it. There's a lot of cool dialougue that referances old movies and pop culture. It's also got a large cast of recognisable faces. In minor roles are peoples such as Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer and Brad Pitt. It has gunplay, some nasty violence but at it's heart is the relationship between it's main characters. The dvd is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is quite good but not the best you've seen. There's very little dirt or belmish so you can't complain. Sound wise it's in Dolby Digital 5.1 and as you'd expect the music and gunplay make good usue of the rears. It's not the best mix around but 5.1 was still in it's infancy when this film was made so again it's good. As for the extras well that's the real problem. There aren't any, not even a trailer. All you get is a static menu. This is the 'Directors Cut' of the film which has a few extra touches to scenes but changes nothing radical in the film's plot. The trailer does feature footage not in the final cut so there must be deleted scenes lying around but they're nowhere to be found on this dvd. This is the best way to own this film at present and it's part of the Warner Bros. budget dvd range so you're not paying through the nose. Until we get a special edition just enjoy the film.