Guest Blogger Jake Barnes: Ode to True Romance
V Note: For your afternoon reading pleasure, here is another post by new guest blogger Jake Barnes.
Please shut up! I'm trying to come clean, okay? I've been a call-girl for exactly four days and you're my third customer. I want you to know that I'm not damaged goods. I'm not what they call Florida white trash. I'm a good person and when it comes to relationships, I'm one-hundred percent, I'm one hundred percent... monogamous.
Of course you remember Christopher Walken's astonishing cameo as the Sicilian gangster, Vincenzio. Here he explains Sicilian's strongest characteristic:
Sicilians are great liars. The best in the world. I'm Sicilian. My father was the world heavy-weight champion of Sicilian liars.
But my point is more than expressing an undying love for True Romance, though it is a wonderful movie. It's more about why people, especially young people, seem to love this movie so much. And I think it comes down to this: True Romance is a modern-day fairy tale. Sweetness pervades scenes of absolute horror and this speaks to us in a way nothing else can.
Movies like Pulp Fiction and Matrix contain the viciousness of True Romance. And we love those movies, but they miss something. It's not something that is cool, but it is something just a little cheesy and very sweet. It is the notion that hope and love can be found in the worst of situations. Alabama explains this feeling wonderfully in the film's final narration:
Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you're so cool, you're so cool, you're so cool.
At this point Alabama's feelings are sweet, but perhaps unrealistic and glorified. To the film's credit, however, Alabama continues:
And sometimes Clarence asks me what I would have done if he had died, if that bullet had been two inches more to the left. To this, I always smile, as if I'm not going to satisfy him with a response. But I always do. I tell him of how I would want to die, but that the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn, and that things would be much as they are now. Perhaps. Except maybe I wouldn't have named our son Elvis.
It is in this final line that the dichotomy of the film's message is elegantly realized. It does not compromise. Alabama recognizes that, unpleasant as it is to admit, life goes on even after the loss of a loved one.
I think this is why a movie like True Romance catches on with college students--it is at that age when we realize who we are: selfish, isolated individuals in a world full of violence and pain. But like Alabama, we recognize that small and seemingly insignificant events and people along the way can provide an underlying sweetness that we all desperately desire.