True Romance Director’s Cut
December 11, 2003
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinchot, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Conchata Ferrell, James Gandolfini, ,
Originally this was to be Tarantino’s directorial debut, but as it turned out it was Tony Scott who used the film to prove to the world that his success with Top Gun was not just a fluke and that he is more than just Ridley’s younger brother. Not only did Tony Scott jump from the shadow of his brother but more like catapulted himself as True Romance is littered with cameo appearances, from now well know established actors, which makes this look like it should be something very special.
Christian Slater is Clarence Woorly, a loner comic book salesman with an obsession for Elvis who meets a hooker on her first job, Alabama (Arquette) in a grotty Detroit movie theatre. Not until THE CROW would Detriot be portaryed as dark and dangerous as it is here. The two youngsters fall in love and thus starts a reign of violence, as Alabama’s past comes to light. This draws Clarence into a world he’s only ever seen in the movies and by the end of the first act he has killed her, whiteman-who-thinks-he’s-black, pimp (Gary Oldman), and stolen gangster Christopher Walken’s drugs.
For those of you who are familiar with Tarantino’s work you can expect the usual foul-mouthed fast tracked dialogue along with comedy and extreme violence with not a care in the world for those who die. Even Clarence justifies his first murder by making himself believe that his beloved Elvis consented to his actions. Elvis played by Val Kilmer (although we’d never know, as we never actually see his face) loads the gun and points him ahead to a life of crime. This life forces him and his now wife Alabama to hit the road and disappear from Detroit. Their travels take them to Clarance’s farther Dennis Hopper, and a childhood friend (Rapport) who shares a house with a constantly drugged up Brad Pitt.
Tony Scott makes an unbelievable effort to bring more life to this film than it deserves with a seductive style of directing including brilliant establishing shots, an amazing climax, (the white feathers are worth watching the rest of the film for), and a true scene of tension between two Hollywood masters as Hopper smokes his last cigar to questionable but highly effective operatic tones, however unfortunately True Romance turns into a game of spot the celebrity. The acting from all is superb and you wouldn’t even notice that most of these guys are playing unconventional roles for them except Slater who has stuck to ever reliable sexy, brooding geek persona that worked so well in ‘Heathers’ and forevermore since. The grace of this film is a unique performance by Patricia Arquette as she never fails to give up, fighting back from a agonizing battering from Walken’s henchmen and fending him off with a corkscrew, hair care products, a toilet lid, and some point blank shotgun work thrusting Alabama into Feminine Icon status forever more.
With a Disc One holding a Directors Cut and three commentaries you’d probably be thinking that this ‘Special Edition’ release is indeed special and you’d be nearly right. The three commentaries being from Patricia and Christian, Tony Scott and Quentin himself are very entertaining in part but you get the feeling that because these tracks were recorded years after the film was made that they haven’t really got enough to say to fill 116 minutes three times. If fact there is some quite lengthy periods during the Tarantino Commentary were there is total silence. But it with Disc Two were you get the ‘bang for you bucks’ with the alternate ending and separate commentaries from both the writer and director about the replaced final scene. I think you get some of the best explanations ever, on DVD as to why the director made a particular decision.
The trailers ooze 80s cheese that only DVD can bring back into our lives, and there is also production feature which is w ay too short when compared to the rest of the features.
Separately, the features are only slightly above average but wrap them up in a shiny cardboard sleeve, whack special edition on the front, and add a classic movie with more celebritism than you can shake a stick at and you truly do have a great little package. Especially since you can pick it up for under a tenner.