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Netflix Pick: True Romance

Rating: Catch it on TV                                                   

I just finished watching True Romance (1993) for the first time.  I have known about this movie for a while and knew that Tarantino wrote the script, but for some reason never got around to watching it.  The Netflix envelope was sitting on my coffee table for about a week and I finally popped it in the DVD player today.  The opening credits started rolling and I got really excited.  I had no idea how strong of a cast this movie had.  Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, and Samuel L. Jackson just to name a few.

It was pretty clear from the start that this film was written by Tarantino.  Early dialogue talks about Sonny Chiba as a legend, and includes footage from old Kung Fu movies.  The story never lost its early Tarantino feel, which is typically a good thing in my opinion.  It had some great dialogue, was bloody, and drew out scenes to add suspense.  Despite all of this, when the movie finished, I couldn’t help but feel like it somehow never fully came together.

As stated before, the movie had a fantastic cast.  Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette had the lead roles but they definitely were outshined by their supporting cast.  One of my biggest complaints of this movie, though, is how they actually used their phenomenal supporting cast.  So many great actors, who play interesting characters, but never really interacted with one another and are on screen for about 20 minutes…combined.  I feel like these actors were used more as a way to sell the movie, than to really make the movie great.  Samuel L. Jackson is in the movie for one minute and ten seconds (I went back and timed it).  Gary Oldman is one of the greatest actors ever, and does a phenomenal job… for 5 minutes.  Brad Pitt’s character was so unimportant to the movie that in the credits they realized if they simply named the character nobody would know who the hell he was.  Hence “Brad Pitt  – Floyd(Dick’s Roommate)”.  Val Kilmer plays a blurry, imagined apparition.  If I hadn’t caught his name in the opening credits I wouldn’t have even known it was him.  He also gets about 2 minutes of screen time.  And finally we come to Christopher Walken.  I absolutely loved his character, Vincenzo Coccotti, and he stars across Dennis Hopper in what is easily the best scene in the movie.  At the end of the scene you are left assuming that Vincenzo would become an integral part of the story.  Nope.  Instead he is not only never seen again, but never even mentioned again.  Such a waste of such fantastic character actors.

As I stated before the movie never really came together for me.  At the end I realized I really didn’t care about any of the characters, other than maybe Clifford (Dennis Hopper), the father of the leading role Clarence (Christian Slater).  On the point of Clarence, I couldn’t really figure him out.  He starts off as a kind of dorky loner, who saves a girl, Alabama, from her pimp, and steals some of his drugs.   He takes off with Alabama (Patricia Arquette) to try and find someone willing to purchase the drugs.  The two are unaware that there are some rather nasty people following them, trying to get the drugs back.  Throughout this sequence of events, Clarence evolves from the dorky loner, into sort of an arrogant douche.  Some people would argue he becomes cooler as the story progresses, but I just found him annoying.  Also mixed up in the plot are a couple of cops (Chris Penn and Tom Sizemore) trying way too hard to catch a drug dealer.  They are two of the dumbest, most unaware, unrealistic cops I have ever seen put to screen.

All in all I really wanted to love this movie, thinking maybe I would add it to my DVD collection based on what others have told me.  Unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype.  It is typically rated very high, and I’m not sure why.  If you had shown me a few scenes here or there, such as Walken interrogating Hopper, I would probably assume the film is terrific, but as a whole it just didn’t do it for me.  I’m sure I’ll catch hell for this review, but it is what it is.

-Gish

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