Man, there were a lot of notable movies to come out in the 90’s and today’s movie is no exception. This is honestly my first experience with Quentin Tarantino’s work, even though he wasn’t the one directing the movie. Now I remember seeing this in theaters and being thoroughly entertained by it. When I watched it again years later, I was honestly amazed at how many people were in it that I didn’t realize when I first saw it. I know several of my friends that saw this movie also enjoyed it so let’s see if True Romance is still as much fun now as it was back then.
The plot: Clarence Worley is attending a Sonny Chiba triple feature at a Detroit theater when a girl, Alabama Whitman, accidentally dumps her popcorn on him. As Alabama apologizes, she asks Clarence to fill her in on what she missed in the movie and the two start talking, continuing their conversation over pie after the movies. Clarence takes her back to the comic shop that he works at and shows her around and they end up having sex in Clarence’s apartment above the shop. Later that night, Alabama admits to Clarence that she is a call girl that Clarence’s boss hired for his birthday but that she has fallen in love with him. Clarence says he is in love with her and the two end up getting married the next day. Later that day, Clarence keeps thinking of Alabama’s pimp, Drexil, and has a vision of Elvis telling him he should kill Drexil and Clarence decides to go through with it. Clarence asks Alabama for Drexil’s address, saying he is going to go there to pick up her things, and she begs him not to go but he insists that he has too so she relents. Clarence goes to Drexil’s house and tells him he is Alabama’s husband and he wants her things and ends up getting into a fight with Drexil and his bodyguard, Marty. Clarence kills Drexil and Marty and tells one of the other call girls to put Alabama’s things in a suitcase but when he gets back to his place, they find the suitcase is filled with bags of cocaine. Clarence and Alabama go see Clarence’s father Clifford, a former cop, and Clarence asks him to asks his friends on the force to see if they are looking into Drexil’s murder. Clifford does so and says that the police think it was drug related, as Drexil was associated with a drug dealer Blue Lou Boyle. Clarence thanks Clifford for his help and gives him the address for his friend Dick in Los Angeles, where they are heading too. As Clarence and Alabama head to L.A., they call Dick, saying they will be there tomorrow, and ask him of they got the letters Clarence sent, as it would explain what they are coming there for. Meanwhile, Clifford is visited by Vincenzo Coccotti, Boyle’s consigliere, and his men, who proceed to interrogate Clifford for Clarence and Alabama’s location. Clifford tells them that they left on their honeymoon and didn’t tell him where and Vincenzo kills him. As he cleans up, Vincenzo tells his men to go to Clarence’s apartment and find out where he might have gone when one of his men finds the note Alabama left with Dick’s address and points it out to Vincenzo. In L.A., Clarence and Alabama arrive at Dick’s apartment and he is shocked that they really have a suitcase full of cocaine. When Clarence asks if he arranged a sell, Dick says he can’t do it but his friend Elliot works for someone that could handle that much cocaine. Clarence, Alabama, and Dick meet with Elliot at an amusement park and explain what they have and Elliot calls Lee Donowitz, a film producer, who agrees to meet with them to sample the merchandise. Meanwhile, one of Vincenzo’s men, Virgil, shows up at Dick’s apartment and speaks with his roommate Floyd, asking where Clarence and Alabama are and Floyd tells him the motel they are staying at. Clarence drops Alabama off at the hotel while he goes to get them some lunch but when Alabama walks into the room, she finds Virgil waiting inside with a shotgun. Virgil asks her about Clarence and the cocaine and she tries to lie but he proceeds to beat her to get the information. Virgil finally finds the cocaine and plans to kill Alabama but she fights back and manages to kill him just as Clarence returns, and he quickly grabs her and the cocaine and quickly leaves. Meanwhile, Elliot gets pulled over for speeding and tries to get the girl he is with to hide the cocaine he is carrying but she refuses and ends up smacking him with the bag, covering him in the powder. He is arrested and offers to cut a deal, telling them about the upcoming sale, and the two detectives, Nicky Dimes and Cody Nicholson, tell their captain about it and plan to wire Elliot to make a sting. As the day of the deal comes up, Clarence, Alabama, and Dick show up at the hotel and meet with Elliot but Clarence, feeling cautious after recent events, points a gun at Elliot and threatens him, causing the police listening in on the wire to worry that the op is blown but Elliot manages to convince Clarence that everything is fine. Meanwhile, Vincenzo’s men show up at Dick’s apartment and learn from Floyd where Clarence and Alabama went. Back at the hotel, Clarence and the others arrive at Lee’s penthouse and they make the deal for the cocaine. As Clarence goes to use the restroom, he is visited by Elvis again, who tells him everything is going fine. Meanwhile, the police got the information they need and show up to make the bust, just as Vincenzo’s men show up. Finding out that Elliot had set him up, Lee throws coffee in his face, causing a shoot out to occur. Clarence is wounded as he exits the bathroom and Alabama crawls over to him while Dick throws the cocaine in the air to cover his escape. Everyone ends up getting shot to death, while Clarence is shown to still be alive and Alabama grabs him and the suitcase with their money and they leave, using a standoff with the last mafia member to cover their escape. Clarence and Alabama head to Mexico to live, with Alabama giving birth to their son, which they decide to name Elvis.
True Romance met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Fueled by Quentin Tarantino’s savvy screenplay and a gallery of oddball performances, Tony Scott’s True Romance is a funny and violent action jaunt in the best sense.” It was Brad Pitt’s idea to make his character a stoner that never left the couch and the hat he is wearing in the movie was one that he found on the boardwalk and decided to keep it, wash it, and use it for the movie. Despite the good reviews, the movie did not fare well at the box office, earning $12.3 million off of a $12.5 million budget.
This is such a good movie an so many levels. The acting was really good, with Christian Slater (Clarence) and Patricia Arquette (Alabama) doing great jobs in the lead roles. I also liked all of the other characters that were in the movie, though I wish that Christopher Walken (Vincenzo) had a bigger role in the movie than just the one scene. The story was incredible and very well written, indicative of Tarantino’s style for story telling. I will admit that the scene with Virgil beating up Alabama to get the information is a bit rough to watch but her fighting back and killing him made it memorable and if possible, more powerful. The drama involved was great in moving the story forward and the fire fight scene, while a bit over the top, had a bit of a poetic feel to it. A great movie and one that earns it’s own place in Tarantino’s hand crafted cinematic universe.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5