Alabama gets her chance to do a Sabrina during a lurid contretemps with a Sicilian bear of a man. He wants the suitcase of cocaine but that suitcase is the Worleys’ passport to prosperity, so she girds herself with a corkscrew and some attitude and the protracted, harrowing struggle commences.
‘I think it’s just as horrifying a man being beaten in that way,’ says Arquette, ‘and part of what I wanted to explore in this scene was, are we to say “isn’t this horrible to see a woman this small being beaten like that?” I’ve given birth so I know how amazingly intense that experience is and how you have to draw from a strength that you don’t know you have. After I gave birth 1 said “c’mon, I could kill Mr T, I could kill anyone.” It’s like you have to pass through the eye of death to give birth, so I wanted to show how emotionally painful a decision it is for a woman to decide to have to kill someone, because it’s so final and you’ll never not have the memory.’
Despite previous film experience working with Sam Shepard and Sean Penn and future projects with the likes of Tim Burton, Patricia is still the unknown quantity in the Arquette acting clan. Although she plays it down, True Romance is the feature set to make her as familiar a face as sister Rosanna. Unfazed by the avalanche of attention that has come with the film, she chatters about her upbringing, the sycophancy of Hollywood and, most enthusiastically, about motherhood.
Her four-and-a-half-ycar old son Enzo makes an appearance at the end of the film as the Worleys’ offspring Elvis. At the age of two, Enzo made his feelings for The King publicly known when he pissed on Elvis’s grave during a tour of Gracelands. Now that '3 how to do your potty training. On-screen father Clarence Worley feels differently. Presley is his mentor. In times of tribulation (two times actually, both in the bathroom when he’s contemplating dastardly murder) an Elvis-a-like fantasy figure appears and eggs him on.
How did director Tony Scott persuade Val Kilmer to spend eight hours a day in make-up for two brief scenes where he’s just a re-assuring hand on Clarence’s shoulder or a bleary reflection in a mirror? ‘Val loves playing dead rock ’n’ rollers,’ quips Scott.
‘vnm yo M was so. . . ransatle.’ Slater and Arquette es oft-them“ lovers.
Kilmer is another of those all-star cameos seamlessly lobbed into the action to delight those, like me, who can’t warm to Slater’s inexplicably street-wise Clarence (who obviously believes everything he reads in those comics he used to sell) and Arquette’s irritatineg coy Alabama. One such delight is the soon-to-be-classic exchange between Dennis Hopper as Clarence’s dad Clifford and Christopher Walken as oily mafioso Vincenzio Coccotti. Walken may well be in the Mr Blond power position, but Hopper, in his most sympathetic role in years, has the Tarantino verbal set piece at the tip of his tongue, as he heads off on an anecdotal tangent that winds up as an intricate insult on the Sicilian nation.
‘I was warned it would become their movie,’ says Scott, ‘but the characters were so well written and sit so well within the fabric of the movie, which is why I think Quentin is unique, that he has the ability to write all those different emotions and be able to plug it into one piece.’
That Tarantino finesse is in full effect for most of the film, penning small but perfectly formed parts for Brad Pitt and Chris Penn to pour their particular talents into, making a virtue of cinematic cliche (sample line: ‘if there’s one thing this week has taught me, it’s better to have a gun and not need it, than to need a gun and not have one’) and throwing in the populist references he so relishes with gleeful abandon. Like when Clarence’s LA buddy Dick auditions for a bit part in T] Hooker — does this advance the action? Is there a hidden agenda? No, it’s just a chance to namedrop William Shatner.
Paradoxically, as the violence escalates, the talk gets faster and wittier. So it is that the culminating three-way shoot-out and ensuing carnage has one foot in Dogs-style naturalism — ‘every violent scene in this movie, everyone’s emotional state is different, you see all the psychological things,’ says Arquette — and the other in the world of the Spencer Tracy and James Cagney films Slater loves so much, where no one goes down without a fight and at least one scene-stealing line. Such is Tarantino’s on-going love affair with The Movies. 0
True Romance opens in Scotland on Friday 29 October.
TRUE ROMANCE FEATURE
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The List 22 October—4 November I993 7