True Romance

Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore

Directed by Tony Scott
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
September 10, 1993

When Quentin Tarantino made his debut last year as the writer and director of Reservoir Dogs, there was no question that a rabid new talent had arrived to bite the ass of conventional filmmaking. Tarantino's movie-obsessed take on the world is the driving force behind True Romance, the savagely funny thrill ride based on the first script this former video-store clerk ever wrote. As Clarence Worley, Christian Slater plays a kung-fu and Elvis worshiper much like Tarantino. No sooner does he meet Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) than Clarence is proposing marriage and defending her honor against her dreadlocked, drug-crazed, mob-connected former boyfriend Drexl Spivey, played by Gary Oldman as if there was no such thing as overacting.

Soon the newlyweds are fleeing Detroit for Los Angeles to sell Drexl's cocaine to Hollywood types, acted with spectacular sleaze by Saul Rubinek and Bronson Pinchot. But first the couple stops to say goodbye to Clarence's security-cop dad, Clifford (Dennis Hopper), who later runs into trouble with mob hit man Vicenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken). The blistering confrontation scene between Hopper and Walken — both in peak form — will be talked about for years. It's pure Tarantino: a full-throttle blast of bloody action and verbal fireworks.

If the rest of True Romance never quite hits those heights of hothouse theatricality, maybe it's because some fool forgot to hire Tarantino to direct his own script. It's baffling why the plum job fell to Tony Scott, the Britisher known for slick commercials and such megaton star vehicles as Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II. It's like pissing away your money for ripped jeans with a designer label. But the true grunge of the script wins out. And even Scott can't neuter the performances. Slater is terrific, reminding us of the vigorous promise he showed before sinking in the shallows of Kuffs and Mobsters. And Arquette delivers sensationally, especially in a vivid scene in which she gives a ballistic thrashing to the hood who's just beaten the bejesus out of her. Arquette and Slater make a wildly comic and sexy pair of bruised romantics. Everyone shines, right down to the smallest bits from Brad Pitt as a stoned innocent to Val Kilmer as the ghost of Elvis. But it's Tarantino's gutter poetry that detonates True Romance. This movie is dynamite.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »