I apologize for taking so long with this review. I've been both packing up an entire house for a move (which isn't done yet), and it took me a while to find a copy of the "Tarantino cut" for this film. So, with that out of the way, let's talk about Tarantino's first script and Tony Scott's best movie.
"True Romance" is about a couple named Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) and Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette). Clarence works at a comic book store, loves to watch Kung Fu movies, and is generally lonely. Alabama is a prostitute that Clarence's boss hired to show him a good time for his birthday, who was supposed to disappear by morning. But she falls in love with him and the next day they get married. Clarence decides to kill her pimp (Gary Oldman), after the "ghost of Elvis" tells him to, and succeeds taking a suitcase full of cocaine from the pimp (but left his driver's license there when he was frisked), and the mob quickly finds out who he is and hilarity ensues as they chase them from Detroit to Los Angeles where Clarence hopes to sell the coke to a big Hollywood producer.
Like all Tarantino movies, it tends to back and forth between making you laugh and making you squirm in disgust without at all feeling like it has no idea what its tone is supposed to be. There is a scene where a hit man named Virgil (James Gandolfini) beats the crap out of her to find the stolen cocaine, and it is one of the hardest scenes I have ever watched in a movie... it's brutal. Especially with a line like this:
"Now the first time you kill somebody, that's the hardest. I don't give a shit if you're fuckin' Wyatt Earp or Jack the Ripper. Remember that guy in Texas? The guy up in that fuckin' tower that killed all them people? I'll bet you green money that first little black dot he took a bead on, that was the bitch of the bunch. First one is tough, no fuckin' foolin'. The second one... the second one ain't no fuckin' Mardis Gras either, but it's better than the first one 'cause you still feel the same thing, y'know... except it's more diluted, y'know it's... it's better. I threw up on the first one, you believe that? Then the third one... the third one is easy, you level right off. It's no problem. Now... shit... now I do it just to watch their fuckin' expression change."
Yes, the scene is very violent, yet watching it makes me stunned in awed silence. The part when Alabama lifts up her cork opener to defend herself against a gun pointed at her and that she still manages to laugh sends chills down my spine.
The Tarantino cut was never actually released, but his script has been out there for many years, which allowed fans to re-edit the movie, use deleted scenes and an alternate ending (which was filmed) to restore the film to something much closer to Tarantino's original vision, and it's better. Much better. This isn't a slight against the original version, but I don't know if I can ever watch it again now that I've seen a superior version. The Tarantino version is told in a non-linear fashion, like many of his other movies while Scott's is told linearly.
It also features one of the best scenes in any movie, between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper.
Now, the ending.
The Tony Scott released version features Clarence losing his eye in a shoot out and escaping with Alabama to Cancun to live happily ever after and raise a son they both named Elvis together.
The Tarantino cut features Clarence dying in the shoot out, and Alabama escapes with the money. She blames Clarence for getting himself killed, and simply goes on the prowl for another man. Now I know some might say this ends up making her look more like a cold opportunist, but she was.... this is the same woman who marries a guy after one night together and then manipulates him into murdering her pimp in cold blood.
It's a good movie, both versions are. But if you can find the Tarantino Cut, that's the one to see. It's always been a favorite of mine. Check it out.
I'm skipping "Natural Born Killers" because what Oliver Stone did to it was a travesty. Reservoir Dogs is next.