"Pulp Fiction" was the follow-up to Quentin Tarantino's
second film as both Director and Screenwriter, "Reservoir
Dogs". Although "Dogs" is an even better film, "Pulp
Fiction" benefitted from the momentum of "Dogs", a cast
with greater name recognition, and less graphic (although
still shocking to the innocents) violence.
"Pulp Fiction" has an ensemble cast with multiple
overlapping storylines. Samuel L. Jackson and John
Travolta are well-dressed hitmen, working for kingpin
Ving Rhames. Travolta also plays a dubious escort
to Rhames' wife Uma Thurman. Bruce Willis is a boxer
who renegs on an argreement with Rhames to fix a fight.
Willis' girlfriend is childlike Maria de Medeiros.
Christopher Walken has a great cameo as Willis' father.
Harvey Keitel gets Jackson and Travolta out of a fix,
Eric Stoltz is a jaded drug dealer, Roseanna Arquette
his multiply-pierced wife. Finally, Tim Roth and
Amanda Plummer are plotting to rob a restaurant,
whose patrons include Jackson and Travolta.
"Pulp Fiction" is a terrific film. The script is loaded
with clever dialogue (it drags only during Willis' bathroom
conversation with de Medeiros). There is much action. The
direction is original. The cast (except for Tarantino, who
should stay behind the camera) is excellent. Samuel L. Jackson
probably gives the best performance, but it was Travolta
who revived his career and received a Best Actor nomination.
"Pulp Fiction" uses obscenities freely, has much violence,
and glamorizes criminal lifestyles. But it is wrong to
downgrade a film because one disagrees with its values.
The film takes the viewer on a wild ride, and the action
is not offensive, but unpredictable and cartoonish.
The characters aren't credible, but they become real
through the outstanding dialogue. There is much comic relief
to break the tension, which is most intense during Thurman's
Some of the cast from "Dogs" reappears here, including
Keitel, Roth and Tarantino. The Tarantino trademarks of
using forgotten pop oldies as a soundtrack, shuffling scenes
out of chronological order, and inserting plot-unrelated
conversations about pop culture, are also repeated.
Although "Pulp Fiction" was too controversial for the
staid Academy, it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay
(Tarantino and Roger Avary). Tarantino was nominated for
Best Director and Best Picture, while Jackson and Thurman
picked up Supporting nominations.
Copyright © 1994 Brian Koller