True Romance & The Charm of James Gandolfini


This was Patricia's big break out role as well.

This was Patricia’s big break out role as well.

The movie’s called TRUE ROMANCE, but after seeing it, my sweetie and I began calling it True Violence.  This did not prevent us from thinking of the movie as one of our favorite films of all time.  It’s a great film–if you like movies in which people are so daffy they’re bonkers-crazy.

Watching it was a unique experience because every little tiny role was acted by someone absolutely brilliant. But it’s a Tarantino film, so even with all the great acting, you’re kind of wincing while you watch and admire it–it’s that exceptionally violent.

The film starred (among others) Christopher Walken, Patricia Arquette and Dennis Hopper, and…James Gandolfini who passed away today.

Part of the film’s quirkiness that captivated us was a core theme of the survival of the unfittest. You wind up cheering on the stoner roommate played by Brad Pitt (yes, he’s in there too along with Elvis.) You’re sure the clever cops are going to get someone killed and probably wind up being cannon fodder themselves, because…that’s how Quentin rolls in the script.

Survival of the most stoned.

Survival of the most stoned.

I saw it in the movie theatre when it came out, and there’s this particular scene I’ll never forget.  James Gandolfini shows up to collect a package.  In a movie of stand out performances, he stood out that much more.  He was so obviously the Tony Soprano-ish killer before Soprano even existed, yet he played up the character’s charm and sense of fairness–a devastating performance choice.

It was followed by a moment where Patricia Arquette’s character is raging in such a primal state of aggression that the scene was deemed fit only for the ‘unrated’ version on the DVD.  So interesting how violent the whole movie is–but its the violence performed by a woman that qualifies as unrated.

JamesI find it fascinating to think about the charisma and power of attraction Gandolfini created in the Sopranos.  The seeds of his charisma in a tough guy character were born right there in TRUE ROMANCE.

Men can from time to time complain that women are drawn to power and money, not a nice guy with a good heart (though I look at DH and beg to differ.) Yet we rarely get to see that attraction of power played out.  What was singular about Gandolfini was that he was not a looker, but somehow knew how to turn on that inner part of himself.  The part that said, “I got all the goodies you need right here.” That’s star power.  That’s acting.  So often in movies or books we’re told a woman is drawn to someone powerful, but we rarely get to see it.  Gandolfini made us understand: oh, so that’s what the appeal is.  Really he was a brilliant actor.  It’s so sad that he’s gone.

We're going to miss you James

We’re going to miss you James

So if you’re in the mood to remember the best of Gandolfini, and you’ve done The Sopranos already, check out TRUE ROMANCE.  Check out IN THE LOOP as well.  [Lady Smut fans who adore Peter Capaldi like I do will note that he’s in this movie too.]

It’s a fast paced satire with another stunning ensemble. Gandolfini does three rounds with Mimi Kennedy, doing a superb job.  The man was a charmer to beat all charmers.  R.I.P. in the loop

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10 Comments

  • Kemberlee Shortland
    June 20, 2013 at 4:26 am

    I don’t think I’ve watched this particular movie, but I’ve seen him in others. Certainly, The Sopranos was an iconic program. Sad news to wake up to this morning.

  • cmkempe
    June 20, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I liked him best in GET SHORTY but he’s good in these as well. A shame.

    • madelineiva
      June 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

      He was such a big bear in Get Shorty. He was a mountain of a man for sure, but with so much charisma I didn’t notice his height much. Kind of like not noticing Al Pacino is short.

  • Elizabeth Shore
    June 20, 2013 at 11:53 am

    I love True Romance, and that fighting scene between him and Patricia Arquette is like nothing I’ve seen before on film. What a tragedy to lose such an actor.

    • madelineiva
      June 20, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      I’m so glad you know the scene I’m talking about–yeah, the first time I saw it I was thinking it was like nothing else on film before too.

  • Kiru Taye
    June 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I remember him from Get Shorty and The Sopranos.Sad loss.

  • LizEverly
    June 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    What a lovely tribute, Madeline.

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