83. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: True Romance

March 1, 2018

Director: Tony Scott
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken
Runtime: 118 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 1993

 

★★★★☆

 

From an undirected screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance plays like the fever dream fantasy of its prolific creator without his own unique visual approach an form of non-linear structure (which was straight-lined from its original form). Essentially a play on the title of Romantic comic books, blending its romantically engaged couple with action and crime genres, it’s a vocal splat of Gen X influences that’s deeply saturated and in love with cinema.

 

You can tell it was written for an 80s aesthetic, with its retro stylings and celebration of 50s Americana right down to Elvis Presley being a featured fictitious player. It’s one which director Tony Scott doesn’t entirely lift, but tries to find a sweet spot in an ease into what would eventually become stables of 90s action cinema, with a highly stylised, glamorised vision of violence and lust cut to a rapid-fire pace.

 

At the centre are the truly fucked up couple of Christian Slater's Clarence Worley and Patricia Arquette's Alabama Whitman; raised on the kind of culture drowning them in the television distraction that sits playing in the background of so many scenes. Possibly psychotic but mostly earnest and trying to get by as the action takes them.

 

Surrounding them is an incredible cast, from Michael Rapaport, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt and a fanatically brief Gary Oldman, they all deliver notable turns. Working with Tarantino’s deft dialogue that makes them all memorable characters through great sequences, and with ‘The Sicilian Scene’ Tarantino has rarely delivered a scene as rich, workable, singular and layered as this exchange.

 

True Romance feels like a balancing act that just about makes it; a fun little slice of post-modern filmmaking in motion with some great talent behind and in front of the camera keeping it mostly on course.

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