Movie Review: Pulp Fiction
Length: 154 minutes
Release date: Oct. 14, 1994
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Stars: 4 out of 5
Pulp fiction is defined as cheap magazines that contain shocking material. "Pulp Fiction" is Quentin Tarantino's shocking material in a three-part movie that gives audiences cheap onscreen thrills. This lurid fiction isn't something that audiences can easily digest and leave. "Pulp Fiction" is an American crime film that entertains while forcing viewers to think carefully about the concept of honor among thieves.
The three stories in "Pulp Fiction" center on a motley crew of scoundrels who are going about their daily duties. Consider the film a "day in the life" piece on the American criminal. There are some main characters: Vincent (John Travolta), Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), The Wolf (Harvey Keitel), Marsellus (Ving Rhames), and Butch (Bruce Willis). An underlying thread flows through each character's experiences as their lives intertwine throughout Tarantino's vignettes. It is a thread that audiences will understand somewhere between the beginning of the second vignette and the end of the third. In the meantime, each vignette focuses on the criminals and their interactions.
At the movie's beginning, a minor couple, Pumpkin (played by Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) are eating at a diner only moments after robbing the place. This scene acts as a prologue to the action. Their connection to the others comes up later.
Vincent and Jules start the main series of vignettes off with a conversation in the car that makes Diablo Cody (writer of "Juno") and her infamous dialogue look like baby gibberish. Jules has a comical Jheri Kurl and mutton chops, which are stereotypical of the black-ploitation films of previous decades. The humor centers on how intelligent Jules is compared to the suave-looking Vincent. The movie then follows Vincent as he takes Mia (Uma Thurman), gangster Marsellus' girlfriend to a 1950s-style club. There, audiences are treated to Travolta's famous flirty dancing, spectacular scenery, and more of Tarantino's famous cinematic technique.
In this part of the movie, audiences witness the events leading up to the infamous shot of adrenaline in Mia's heart (she's a huge junky who will put anything up her nose). The next section contains rape scenes and introduces Willis and Rhames. The final of the movie's three parts returns to Jules and Vincent, who are in trouble and need help from a friend named Jimmie, who is played by none other than Tarantino himself. They must call up the services of The Wolf-the criminals' version of a clean-up man. The epilogue of sorts ends with Jules and Vincent discussing things just before Pumpkin and Honey enter the picture once again.
Throughout the interactions between the criminals in the film, several codes and conditions are discussed, and it becomes evident that there is a certain moral code that even hit men follow. Some of this code can be seen in the comeuppance that Jules and Vincent get after having to request help from Marcellus in cleaning up a body (which brings The Wolf into the film). Tarantino jerks the script around as much as he does the camera, leaving audiences to wonder what is going on and what will happen next. The moment when viewers expect someone to die, that character doesn't. The reason is usually some version of the unspoken code. It is the unanticipated deaths that are shocking. However, the characters make viewers understand that each murder was completely warranted under the codes they follow. That is the beauty of "Pulp Fiction."
The film easily lives up to its name in its violence, and also in the shocking banter between characters. Many audience members will find it hard to believe that some of the words are being spoken aloud. The "Gold Watch" vignette, featuring Rhames and Willis, also supports the film's title with its sexual content and the bloody, gory revenge scene that follows. All of this occurs over the course of one day in the life of these interrelated criminals.
The short time span is one of the remarkable aspects of Tarantino's most iconic film. All of the action, with its shock, horror, blood, and guts, occurs over the course of one day. So many lives are changed forever, but other characters go on to live their usual lives. Audiences will cheer on the interplay between Jules and Vincent as the men try very hard to follow orders as usual. Viewers will root for Butch and his sweetheart Fabienne as they try desperately to leave their lives of crime for good.
"Pulp Fiction" (watch trailer) is a cult classic film with many quotes and memorable scenes that audience members will remember long after their first or even fifteenth viewing of the film.