Quentin Tarantino has written some very good scripts. True Romance is his best.
Tony Scott made some memorable films: Top Gun, Crimson Tide, Deja Vu, Enemy of the State, Spy Game. True Romance is his best.
It’s just one of those films that sticks with you forever and gets better and better each time you treat yourself to it. I get fired up every time I hear that whimsical Hans Zimmer Caribbean theme that opens the picture.
It works as a love story. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are so good together. We pull for Clarence and Alabama every frame of the way. Their romantic launch scene outside of his bedroom window on the billboard platform is one of the sweetest exchanges I’ve ever seen in a film. “If I’m with you, then I’m with you, and I don’t want anybody else.” Gets me every time.
It works as a father-son story. Easily one of Dennis Hopper’s most memorable and likeable roles. Everyone loves to reference his amazing scene with Christopher Walken – and it is an amazing scene – but how about the scene before when Clarence drops in unexpectedly and announces to his poor old dad that he’s getting married. “I haven’t heard from you in three years. You show up all of a sudden. You walk in here like a Goddamned bulldozer. Now don’t get me wrong. I love you – I’m glad to see you. But slow it down, man.” I miss Dennis Hopper.
It works as an action film. The fight scene in Drexl’s sleazy Detroit pimp palace is one for the ages. “In that envelope right there is some payoff money. Alabama’s movin’ on to some greener pastures. We’re not negotiating, I don’t like to barter. What’s in that envelope right there is my peace of mind. My peace of mind is worth that much, not one penny more.” Then, the Alabama Vs. Tony Soprano cage match in the motel room? “We don’t have any coke, but there’s a Pepsi machine down the hall.” So good.
It works as a comedy. Probably Brad Pitt’s funniest role. Who can forget good ol’ Floyd? “Don’t condensend to me, man.” Michael Rapaport’s audition scene for T.J. Hooker gave every actor in Hollywood a knee slap and a half. Or Bronson Pinchot getting a face full of marching powder as the cop approaches. Still LOL after all these years.
It works as a commentary piece on the film industry and all of the nuts and flakes who sprawl across the Mulholland Drive canvas. Saul Rubinek as the Michael Bay style over the top big budget film producer is spot on.
It works as a cops and robbers film. Tom Sizemore’s admiration for Clarence as the plot thickens is priceless. Michael Beach taking one in the gut and then dropping down on to the sofa amidst the heavenly down feathers is a poetic lasting image. How about Blue Lou’s goons loading up for the final shootout, vintage Tony Scott macho montage.
It even dabbles in the fantastic, with Clarence being haunted by Val Kilmer’s Elvis. “I always liked you, Clarence.”
It all works. So much so I would venture to call True Romance a masterpiece.
I will not pretend here to be a huge fan of all of Tony Scott’s films. In fact I can only name a few that I liked. But I will shout from the rooftops that True Romance is as good as it’s gonna get, and it won’t ever get that good again.
As we mourn the loss of Tony Scott, his resume is really of minor importance. What is of major importance is that we all take time to value those around us. To value how important movies are in connecting us, giving us a cinematic common language that makes life so rich.
Clarence worshipped The King. “Rock and roll. Living fast, dying young, and leaving a good-looking corpse.”
Real life is a little messier.
Rest in peace, Tony Scott. Thanks for True Romance.