June 10, 2016

Film Review—Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino’s pop culture fueled, non-linear, black comedy crime drama. Divided into several loosely interconnected vignettes, the film revels in the colour of L.A.’s dark underbelly. We have Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), two hitmen who are running an errand to retrieve a brief case for their boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Marsellus in the meantime is discussing the fall boxer Butch (Bruce Willis) will be taking in an upcoming fight, as well as negotiating with Vincent to take his wife (Uma Thurman) out to dinner to curb her loneliness. Add in a couple of small time robbers (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer), Vincent's dealer (Eric Stoltz), Jules’ friend who helps them in a tight situation (Tarantino), Marsellus’ "cleaner" (Harvey Keitel) and Christopher Walken as a Vietnam veteran bearing heirlooms, you have a film that celebrates its pulpy origins.

What distinguishes Tarantino is both his eye for phenomenal set pieces as well as his ear for highly entraining dialogue in all his films. It may seem trivial, spurred by the everyday, the mundane, but therein lays its value, and never more than in Pulp Fiction. The entire film can be viewed as a mediation on meaning and value.  From the petty importance of a gold watch versus the mysterious contents of a briefcase, to a pastiche Bible passage, to the significance of what the French call a Quarter-pounder with Cheese to only be told that in America names don’t mean anything. The dialogue creates an ironic cycle where things that mean nothing are given vital importance by the interlocutors, only to be relegated as meaningless by the fluidity of language, yet which in turn creates meaning for the audience, who then ponder the meaning of any of it.

An engrossing and richly vital film, Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction proves its place as one of cinema’s finest achievements, with flawless writing, perfectly executed pacing, and its colorful yet relatable characters, all of which gives it sensational rewatch value.

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