Pulp Fiction is one of those 90s movies that is constantly imitated, but never overshadowed. From the minute you step into the colorful world of Tarantino’s design, you are left in awe of the ridiculousness and the masterful way that it is presented.
While paying homage to countless eras of film before it, Pulp Fiction is an end product that feels wholly original. It doesn’t rely on the mundane methods of linear storytelling and the traditional three-act structure of other hit films, but it still tells a cohesive story and keeps the audience interested.
Set in the gorgeously exotic and always full of surprises city of Los Angeles, it is a modern day tribute to an era now gone. Twisting plot structure to his own needs, Tarantino weaves a nonlinear narrative through a series of interconnected plot lines involving two wisecracking mob assassins, a boxer’s inheritance, the seductive wife of a powerful gangster, two redneck rapists, and a guy in a tux who’s really good at disposing of dead bodies. Yeah, just the usual.
The violence in this movie is comical and lighthearted despite its brutality. In the same way that Scorsese’s characters are darkly hilarious, Tarantino finds a way to make the characters in Pulp Fiction likable in spite of their murderous tendencies.
It’s the dialogue that really stands out in terms of character development and crafting well-rounded, sympathetic people to base a film around. The scene with Vincent and Mia at Jackrabbit Slim’s is a testament to Tarantino’s command of the English language. Through a series of seemingly pointless conversations, we learn more than enough about the two that we feel comfortable embracing the overdose and adrenaline needle to the heart that comes later.
The characters in this film seem to love getting into trouble, then finding a way to somehow get into even more trouble while trying to find a way out of the initial trouble. For example, Butch the boxer goes through all the trouble of rigging his own fight to collect the payout from the bookie at the expense of Marcellus Wallace and his constituents. For most movies, that would be enough. It would be a film about escaping from mobsters hot on his trail with plenty of danger along the way. However, this film takes it to a whole new level by forcing Butch to return to his apartment, sure to be full of dangerous people looking for him, to find his father’s watch. This line of story leads to strange people and disturbing rape basements that somehow feel believable in this world.
Somehow, Tarantino keeps the chaos in check and keeps it from veering off into unbelievable or contrived territory, but it toes the line quite daringly. There is a blending of themes like sin and redemption, religious awakening, violence, sexuality, and the supernatural that cause the viewer to delve deeper than just the surface level of the film. Both comical, introspective, and violent, Pulp Fiction is a film that everyone should see at some point in their life and should continually be held as one of the greatest cinematic achievements in the history of 90s movies.