True Romance & The Charm of James Gandolfini
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.
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.
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.
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.]