• Libby Briggs

True Romance (1993) review – the classic love story is still ‘so cool’

So we’d both fuck Elvis? Nice to meet someone with common interests.” Not your usual pick-up line, but Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) is not your usual guy.

Celebrating his birthday at the cinema, Clarence (a nerdy, comic-book store clerk and Elvis fanatic) falls quickly and madly in love with the damaged, but dangerous Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette), a prostitute paid by his boss to “get [him] laid”. To say the couple move quickly would be an understatement. Within hours, they’ve already unleashed the ‘L’ word, and within days they become Mr and Mrs Worley.

Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater play newlyweds, Alabama and Clarence Worley

Gary Oldman is unrecognizable as the psychopathic, trigger-happy Drexl (Alabama’s ex-pimp) and his first encounter with our anti-hero ends in enough violence that any squeamish viewer would be watching between their fingers, but from a Quentin Tarantino screenplay, what were you expecting? Poor Clarence makes two grave mistakes on his first attempt at playing hero: the suitcase of what he believed to be Alabama’s belongings was actually filled with cocaine, and he left his driving license in the hand of the man he had just shot multiple times in the head with a revolver.

Now with blood on his hands, both the police on his back, and a purple Cadillac, Clarence flees with Alabama with a new plan in mind: to sell the drugs and move to a remote island where they can live happily ever after.

“Where’d you think we should go, my little turtledove?”
“Cancun… Sounds like a movie. ‘Clarence and Alabama Go To Cancun’, what do you think?”
“In my movie, darling, you’d get top billing.”

In order to get that dream honeymoon, the couple request the help of Dick (Michael Rapaport), an aspiring actor, to sell the drugs to big-shot movie producer, Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek), but while he isn’t much help at all, the real scene-stealer is Dick’s stoner roommate, Floyd, played by Brad Pitt. Laid-back, chilled out, and with limited lines, Pitt is hilarious whenever he appears; even Christopher Walken isn’t half as memorable.

From left to right: Dick Ritchie (Michael Rapaport), Floyd (Brad Pitt), Alabama Worley (Patricia Arquette), and Clarence Worley (Christian Slater)

On their mission, Clarence brings out his inner Elvis with the bold, red, Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses and the Safari Inn complete with leopard interior is tacky enough to make you love it. Clarence is forced to grow up in a matter of days and the awkward nerd we first met celebrating his birthday alone eventually ceases to exist, but Alabama knew the man he was from day one. She scribbles on a napkin, admiring her husband,“you’re so cool”.

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