On the surface, the film is a recipe you’ve never tasted before. Yet, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction makes for stupendous movie diet.I said, Tarantino’s. Yes, every film is a director’s film. But perhaps no other film carries the director’s mark as distinctly as Pulp Fiction does.
A good film demands a good narrative and a director’s job is to see this translate on screen through coherent scenes where the actors play out roles. There is no such narrative in Pulp Fiction, only situations. The film is a collage of situations with lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of small time thieves intertwined together.
These situations are divided into four parts, each part with a separate title. As if Tarantino’s trying to present a short story collection on screen. And his situations move like a fast-paced thrillers where there’s twist at every corner. Hence, the film’s title — Pulp Fiction.
It is the twists in the tales that Tarantino is concerned about, not the tales. And twists, there are too many.
The thieves sit in a restaurant, drinking coffee and talking (mark the use of f-words), and finally when they are ready for action, the scene moves to the two hit men, Vince and Jules. As they begin to hold our attention, enters the gangster’s drug-addict wife. John Travolta does a Saturday Night Fever jig with Uma Thurman, and as you start liking the couple, they disappear to give way for Bruce Willis’s down in luck boxer.
As if, Tarantino’s playing music, and once the tune hits the crescendo, he shifts to another.
The beauty of the film lies in the detailing of the scenes Tarantino creates, how he fuses breakneck action with slow, lazy scene sequence, how he combines different emotions within a single sequence, how he makes weird characters utterly believable, and how he makes them talk.
The scene where Willis looks for a perfect weapon in the shop, it’s hilarious and grim at the same time, when Samuel L Jackson sermonises before committing the murder, the interactions between Travolta and Thurman, there are many such examples. Tarantino can make any scene look cool. And Travolta’s Vince is coolness personified.
Pulp fiction means narratives which are of poor quality, intentionally shocking and sensational.
Shocking and sensational, yes, but Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is a riveting experience.