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Pulp Fiction


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Pulp Fiction  
Quentin Tarantino I 1994 I USA 

One cannot merely describe this film in a few words. Of course, it's everything it's said to be; brutal, funny, provocative, outrageously violent and breath-takingly exhilarating. However, when Quentin Tarantino, who had jumped to fame two years earlier with his controversial debut Reservoir Dogs made this movie, little did he know that it was going to become one of the most respected and critically praised films of the decade, apart from being a box-office hit. It's sheer originality and innovation are some of the things that made it turn into the perfect film for the Generation X and it's cool soundtrack, with songs specifically picked by the director himself, helped a lot too. 

In a time where films are increasingly dominated by simplistic formula Hollywood offerings, Pulp Fiction proves to be refreshingly different. Its absorbing dialogue (the movie's most important and vital element) is so fertile and imaginative, written with such wit and creativity, that it's no wonder the movie went on to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. In the film, the characters don't just talk in order to advance the story or to give the viewer important information. What they do, or rather, what Tarantino makes them do, is to speak about insignificant stuff such as foot massages or the name of a Quarter Pounder in France so that they are more believable and less one-dimensional altogether. Not evrything has to be vital for the story, not eevrything the characters speak out is as relevant as some would have thought.

The film interweaves three tales, told in a circular, fractured manner, which only fully connect by the time the final credits roll. The first story focuses on Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), two hit men on duty for "the big boss," Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), whose gorgeous wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), takes a liking to Vincent. In the second, a down-and-out boxer (Bruce Willis), who is ordered to take a fall, decides that theres more money in doing the opposite. The final chapter follows a pair of lovers (Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth) as they prepare to hold up a diner.
Tarantino, who worked as a video store clerk in his '20s, proudly pays homage to his cinematic influences. The film sparkles and dazzles, throwing our characters into hilarious situations with brilliant results, making every scene all the more incredible and memorable. The infamous "I shot Marvin in the face" scene has already become an instant classic, as well as the unforgettable dancing sequence involving Travolta and Uma Thurman.

The acting is flawless. Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta have an incomparably electrifying chemistry and Thurman is excellent as the seducing Mia. The rest of the cast is a stand-out, too. Even Christopher Walken, who has a small role in a brief scene, is impeccable, providing the movie's biggest laugh while telling the story of a priceless watch.

Perhaps one of Pulp Fiction's greatest strengths is its ability to make use many different things simultaneously. At first glance, the film can be perverse, funny, cruel, violent and hilarious, all these things at the same time. Yet, at its core, often overlooked by the people who write the film off as senseless glorification of drugs and bloodshed is the true message that underlies everything. Pulp Fiction is in fact a film about loyalty, redemption and betrayal and, though the film might seem pessimist, its final message is a very positive one which should not be ignored. 

All in all, Pulp Fiction is an amazing film, created by a very talented director at the top of his game. It isn't for everybody, that's evident, because some might find it too profanity-filled or violent. Nonetheless, it still is hypnotic, cool and spectacular, and stands as one of the most important films of the past decade and as a landmark in cinema history.
Rarely have I turned off the TV feeling as thrilled and satisfied as when I saw this film. Pulp Fiction is close to perfection, or, as Jules would say, a royale with cheese. This isn't just essential viewing, it's compulsive viewing. After the film, not only did I think, "Whoa, that was incredible"... no, no. A question still floated in my mind, "What was in the briefcase?"


Reviewed by Pablo Hernandez, 2003