Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Rating: 8.9/10
Genre:  Drama, Crime
Relase Date:  14 Oct 1994
Director Quentin Tarantino
Runtime: 2h 34min

Movie Bio Dialogue drives Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” dialogue of such high quality it deserves comparison with other masters of spare, hard-boiled prose, from Raymond Chandler to Elmore Leonard. Like them, QT finds a way to make the words humorous without ever seeming to ask for a laugh. Like them, he combines utilitarian prose with flights of rough poetry and wicked fancy.

Consider a little scene not often mentioned in discussions of the film. The prizefighter Butch (Bruce Willis) has just killed a man in the ring. He returns to the motel room occupied by his girlfriend Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros). She says she’s been looking in the mirror and she wants a pot belly. “You have one,” he says, snuggling closer. “If I had one,” she says, “I would wear a T-shirt two sizes too small, to accentuate it.” A little later she observes, “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye are seldom the same.

This is wonderful dialogue (I have only sampled it). It is about something. The dialogue comes at a moment of desperation for Butch. He agreed to throw the fight, then secretly bet heavily on himself, and won. He will make a lot of money, but only if he escapes the vengeance of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and his hit-men Jules and Vincent (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta). In a lesser movie, the dialogue in this scene would have been entirely plot-driven; Butch would have explained to Fabienne what he, she and we already knew. Instead, Tarantino uses an apparently irrelevant conversation to quickly establish her personality and their relationship. His dialogue is always load-bearing.

It is Tarantino’s strategy in all of his films to have the characters speak at right angles to the action, or depart on flights of fancy. Remember the famous opening conversation between Jules and Vincent, who are on their way to a violent reprisal against some college kids who have offended Wallace and appropriated his famous briefcase. They talk about the drug laws in Amsterdam, what Quarter Pounders are called in Paris, and the degree of sexual intimacy implied by a foot massage. Finally Jules says “let’s get in character,” and they enter an apartment.

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