I first rented Pulp Fiction in Junior High, and I turned it off in the first ten minutes of the film. A good six years I later, I have now returned to Quentin Tarantino's so-called masterpiece, and my perspective on the film is quite a bit different.
Now desensitized by the influence of violence, sex and drugs in Hollywood (yet not a violent, drug-addicted rapist), Tarantino's world of rather immoral characters that love to swear, kill people, and shoot up doesn't seem as disturbed. In fact, almost as soon as Pulp Fiction started, I became in engulfed in the story.
The story, to say the least, is sketchy at best, but on the other hand, it isn't. Not that much is really accomplished, and a lot of things happen on coincidence. Some plotlines are left unfinished or incomplete, and the ending, though having some inner meaning, doesn't have much to do with the plot (not to mention that since Tarantino likes to mess with the chronology of his scenes, the ending sequence actually takes place quite early in terms of the events that happen in the movie). However, it is Tarantino's lack of chronological order and the way he creatively overlaps storylines that makes Pulp Fiction worth seeing. Furthermore, each scene is just so creative both in direction and in dialogue that it really doesn't matter what the plot is like.
The movie follows a couple of hit men (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson) who are delivering a case of something to their boss. Later on, one of those hit men (Travolta) takes his boss's wife (Uma Thurman) out on a 'date.' At the same time, the boss has paid off a boxer (Bruce Willis) to take a fall in a fight, but when he doesn't the boxer has to get out of the city. Also, a foreign couple decide to rob a restaurant.
To put it flatly, the acting is terrific. Pretty much every actor goes beyond what they are comfortable with and succeed brilliantly. John Travolta is superb, as if Samuel Jackson (like always). Travolta is genuinely funny. This is the best Uma Thurman movie I've seen. Bruce Willis also shows just how good of an actor he can be (not just an action hero). Harvey Keitel also has a decent size part.
The dialogue, most definitely, is what makes Pulp Fiction a winner. Every scene has witty dialogue and some funny lines, yet the movie is fairly serious. Tarantino has a gift of putting comedy into dark movies, and Pulp Fiction is definitely a dark movie.
The only downside of this film is that it stretches two and a half hours, a good hour over what I predicted it to be. Really, this movie could have and should have been two hours long. It does have a few slow parts but mainly, especially near the end, some scenes are just dragged out too long. The bloody car cleaning scene is especially long and unnecessary.
Pulp Fiction has become a cult classic and for good reason.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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