Now we come to The Big One, the one we’ve all been waiting for, the most recognized Tarantino film: Pulp Fiction. I’m not sure how I expected this to go; but it didn’t go the way I expected. One of the reasons I waited so long to see this was that I really didn’t have a good handle on the plot; I had no clue what was going to happen in this movie besides some guy named Marvin getting accidentally shot and John Travolta dancing in a contest with some chick. That’s not really bad per se, but I didn’t have something to latch onto like “rewriting the history of WWII” or “heist gone wrong.” So I didn’t feel a giant need to see this outside of the fact that it’s Tarantino and, as far as I can tell, it’s usually considered his best. I’m just going to put a big spoiler alert on this whole thing because I’m going to give a lot away. Not everything, but a lot. Just proceed with caution, okay? I warned you.
Pulp Fiction is split up into three parts. The first part is pretty good but it starts getting really depressing and sad towards the end, the second part is even more depressing, and the third part is possibly one of the greatest things I have ever seen. After I watched Reservoir Dogs, I noticed that I never seem to be on board with Tarantino’s films until a certain moment comes along and everything gets fantastic all of a sudden, and this was still true with Pulp Fiction. It wasn’t at the very beginning of the third part, but it would have been if it hadn’t taken awhile for me to ascertain that we were out of depressing territory. On the whole the movie isn’t depressing, but the middle is. I sometimes get depressed at random stuff though, so I don’t imagine that most people would have this complaint. As I said before, I didn’t know what I was expecting but I wasn’t expecting something that would depress me that much.
Anyway, as I said the first part is pretty good. The prologue shows a couple (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) planning to rob the restaurant they are currently eating in. They just get their guns out when Tarantino cuts them off, but don’t worry, they’ll be back. Now come the opening credits, which are pretty cool but not as cool as in Reservoir Dogs. Now we get into the first part proper, entitled “Vincent Vega and Marcellus Wallace’s Wife.” Marcellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) is some kind of mobster of some sort, and he sends Jules (Sammuel L Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) to pick up a briefcase from these guys that were supposed to deliver it to him previously. As they are walking there, Jules tells Vincent a story about how Wallace dropped a guy out of a window for simply massaging his wife’s feet, which is worrying to Vincent since he’s supposed to look after Wallace’s wife Mia (Uma Thurman) when Wallace goes out of town.
So they get the briefcase, in a great scene. Be prepared for some very eloquent exectutions here. They then take it to Wallace. We never find out what’s in that breifcase, which really bothers me now that I come to think of it. Whatever it is, it’s glowing (ominously?). Then Vincent goes to buy some drugs and then meet Mia. She’s pretty strange, not gonna lie. When he comes into the appartment, she has him talk to her on the intercom even though she can obviously hear him anyway because she’s responding to what he’s saying. Then comes the famous part of the movie where they go to Jack Rabbit Slim’s and enter the twist contest. She tells him about the tv pilot she was a part of, he asks her if her husband really threw that guy out of a window, and they have pretty in depth conversations for people who just met. That seems to be the whole point, and Mia acknowledges this by saying that it’s okay for them to just share a silence when normally it would be uncomfortable. The weird thing is that in order to say this she has to break said silence and it kind of seems to go against the very thing that she’s saying. Nevertheless, the two do seem to have a genuine connection, even though it’s kind of strange.
It starts getting kind of sad right about now, because they’re dancing around and I was kind of worried about Vincent’s future. With Wallace’s reputation I wasn’t sure he was going to come out of this alive. They go home and Mia overdoses, and then things get really depressing. The part when they’re trying to save her is pretty unsettling, she turns out to be okay but still. I thought she was like Frankenstein’s monster or something when she woke up, it was that creepy. Don’t do drugs! Ok, lesson learned. Vincent takes Mia home for the second time and this is really heartbreaking. She tells him something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people, but she was too embarrassed to tell him before so it actually is a big deal. It’s very sad because you don’t know if they’ll ever see each other again, or if Wallace will find out what happened and somehow endanger one or both of them. So I wasn’t feeling to happy when the next part came around, which is just more depressing.
“The Golden Watch” is primarily the story of Butch (Bruce Willis) a boxer who is supposed to throw a fight at Wallace’s command. He isn’t able to do this effectively; he ends up literally killing his opponent. He then goes back to get his French girlfriend and get out of dodge. His girlfriend forgets to pack his watch though, and this watch is a prized family heirloom so he has to go back to his appartment to get it. Of course, Wallace has somebody staking it out, but fortunately for Butch at least he’s caught Wallace’s guy with his pants down. As he’s making his getaway, he runs into, and then over, Wallace. They have a fight which then leads them into a pawn shop. The owner ties them up and calls a cop, but not for anything that would be considered law-abiding. The cop decides to rape Wallace first, fortunately leaving Butch to escape. Butch then goes back to save Wallace, which was really good of him since he and Wallace were trying to kill each other two minutes ago. I was just getting so depressed here; Wallace was built up as this great overlord of everybody and this skinny cop guy just rapes him and it’s depressing. It was zero percent funny at this moment and I was over halfway through the movie and the Tarantino momment hadn’t happened yet! But never fear, the best is yet to come.
“The Bonnie Situation” is pretty fantastic. We go back to Jules and Vincent picking up the briefcase. A guy comes out of the bathroom to defend his friends against Jules and Vincent, but all his shots miss them. Jules is convinced he’s witnessed a miracle, and tries to get Vincent to acknowledge it. They get the briefcase, and they take the surviving guy, Martin, back with them. I already knew what was going to happen to this guy, but it’s the aftermath that is hilarious. Vincent is just talking to him, and he’s still holding his gun and even if I hadn’t already heard about this I would have been able to figure out that the gun was just going to go off as it always does in these situations. Jules and Vincent don’t know what do; they can’t very well just ride down the road with blood covering the back of their car. Now comes the part where they’re trying to cover it up, and the all while Jules is struggling with his newfound righteousness.
Man, I feel like I’m going really in depth with the plot here but I feel that it’s necessary. All the good stuff happens at the end, and don’t worry, we’re almost there. Jules comes up with the plan to go to his friend Jimmie’s (Tarantino himself) house, and this right about when I was absolutely sure I was going to be okay with this movie. Jimmie’s worried about what his wife Bonnie is going to think when she comes back home and sees a bunch of gangsters and a dead guy in her house: “I’m gonna get fuckin’ divorced. No marriage counselling, no trial separation, I’m gonna get fuckin’ divorced.” Jules calls up Wallace and he sends over The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) and the snappy banter goes into overdrive. Now that their immediate problem of Marvin’s body has been solved, Jules gets back to thinking about how he’s going to retrire from his life of crime. They go to the restaurant from the beginning and everything comes full circle.
Now for the really profound part that gives some sort of meaning to all of the heartbreak, hilarity, and carnage that happened previously. It’s not like the film tries to explain everything in a cut and dry way exactly, but you sort of get Jules’ take on it at least which helps. He stands up to the robbing couple, but in an less violent and still very eloquent way. This part is really tense because you’re pretty worried about what’s going to happen to eveybody who has a gun pointed at them, but also I was really hoping Jules wouldn’t shoot anybody since he’d been redeemed and all. He’s actually able to do some good here and after so much destruction going on it’s really nice to see something positive happen.
Where Pulp Fiction really suceeds is the character development. Jules is the best example of this, in my opinion. This guy is such a fantastic character, and the change he goes through is inspiring. I’m probably going to start sounding kind of cheesy here but I don’t even care. He starts out not really caring if he kills people; he’s just doing his job like anybody else. He escapes death and has “a moment of clarity” where he realizes that he’s been used by Wallace this entire time. Some higher power cares about what happens to him, and he in turn starts caring about other people. He is able to become a morally better person, but he’s still very much himself. He doesn’t shut down his personality or anything, he just changes what he does with it. Maybe this shows that the violence he committed previously didn’t define him. See what I mean? Profound stuff. I was actually feeling pretty zen when all of this was over. All of the other characters may not have had such a powerful change in their outlook, but they were definitely memorable. Now that I think of it, I kind of wonder what happened to Wallace after all of this…. I bet he’s not the same person. And Mia. I mean, what happened to these people? Usually after a story is over I just accept it and move on, but I really want to know what happened to these guys.
Sometimes I don’t realize how involved I was with a movie until I look back on it, and that’s definitely what’s happening here. I feel like I will appreciate Pulp Fiction way more the next time I watch it. I feel like that whenever I watch these the first time, I keep waiting for the moment to come along and I’m never completely sure that it will so I spend a lot of the movie not being too happy with myself/Tarantino. But I think the next time I watch I’ll know there is a light and the end of the tunnel and that I already love the film. I was really worried for the majority of Pulp Fiction, but just like Jules, it redeemed itself.
Long story short: 4/4 stars