‘lt’s sort of about the romance America has and has always had with violence . . . They’ve always been a bloodthirsty nation.’
That 01’ Reservoir Dog himself, Quentin Tarantino, has penned the ultimate in pop culture throwaway ﬁction with True Romance. Fiona Shepherd talked rock ’n’ roll romance with the ﬁlm’s
rising star, Patricia Arquette.
reat Romance. A real knockout for your ﬁrst-ever Dogs — written second, ﬁlmed ﬁrst — meant everything. True Romance means . but no one can really remember what that is. it’s just a truism, an anodyne
something . .
title, Mr Tarantino. True
nothing but signiﬁed
‘I think it’s a perfect title.’
True Romance’s writer, Quentin Tarantino, isn’t here to explain himself, but Patricia Arquette, one of the ﬁlm’s two main stars, has her opinions, and the lady doth protest at our straitjacketed conception of romance. ‘See, it’s not called True Love, it’s called True Romance and the romance between young people is
Particularly so for the two young protagonists in this film. Arquette is Alabama Whitman, a novice hooker, who swiftly becomes Alabama
Worley following an orchestrated encounter with Christian Slater’s Clarence
Worley in a cinema. On his birthday. Watching a kung fu ﬁlm. He works in a comic store. She digs Burt Reynolds. They both love Elvis. Clearly they should marry tout de suite. So far, not much romance. Next, Clarence has to deal with his spouse’s dreadlocked pimp, Drexyl Spivey (Gary Oldman, in the ﬁrst of the ﬁlm’s several limelight-procuring cameos). By
the time Clarence is through at Drexyl’s pad the only things left breathing are the hair lice. He returns to the love nest with a suitcase of what he assumes is Alabama’s ‘stuff’. (Actually, it’s uncut cocaine, but how was he to know?) Alabama clutches him to her bosom. ‘I think what you did was so...what you did was so... [what? what? despicable? a triﬂe foolhardy? suicidal, you big schmuck?]...romantic,’ she gasps. So this is true romance.
What unfolds from hereon in is actually Tarantino’s romance with cinematic genres. With the love story, with the road movie, with violent thrillers, with comedy. The ﬁlm’s publicity shots portray Arquette and Slater as 3 (ie. newlyweds want ﬁnancial security. They know a man who knows a man who knows a man in LA who can relieve them of their accidental coke haul. Moviegoers know that where there’s drugs there’s violence. Reservoir Dogs fans know that where there’s a Tarantino script there’s blood and humour coursing evenly through the action, and believability shot through the characters and dialogue.
With all this baggage on board, Arquette explains the title’s suitability. ‘It’s sort of about the romance America has and has always had with violence,’ continues Arquette. ‘They have holidays where they eat turkey as they celebrate the pilgrims and learning from the Indians how to eat corn, and they know that they slaughtered the Indians. They’ve always been a bloodthirsty nation. So what is real romance? The TV generation has a romance with comic books, with kung fu, with drugs and with selling them. Part of Alabama’s whole concept of what being a woman is like is from watching Charlie’s Angels. She wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel when she grew up and she sort of did.’
off-the-wall) lovers. The
8 The List 22 October—4 November 1993