18 April 2004 | Gatorman9
I just finished screening this movie for the first time after putting it off for a number of years because of what seemed like equivocating appraisals from some of my friends. In hindsight, however, it seems to me that while the movie must have definitely bowled them over, overall they weren't sure exactly what to make of it or how to articulate what were probably a confused mix of feelings. But I am so impressed that I feel compelled to add a few specific observations to the many fine reviews already on this database.
First, this movie hits you with an impact somewhere in between, say, APOCALYPSE NOW and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and for some people may be just as disturbing (however, in this respect I am happy to report I didn't think it rose to the level of NATURAL BORN KILLERS). Full of graphically violent action and language, PULP FICTION is not a picture for everyone - I would definitely not recommend it to my parents, born in the 1930's (even to my one fairly "hip" relative of the same generation who, at age 66, still teaches high school sex education and likes to talk about things like sunbathing nude, among other potentially sensitive issues).
Irrespective of audience sensibilities, however, the film-makers, supported by superb acting in every role, manage to create a world full of the most fascinating sleazy characters possibly ever to appear on screen. From Travolta's pronounced almost-child-like curiosity about the world to Jackson's sincere and thoughtful philosophical ruminating and Willis's deep devotion to the memory of his father, I think such fascination lies not only in the characters' personalities as they are portrayed but in the way they tantalize the viewer into considering the possibility that such people could actually exist. As a lawyer of some years' experience dealing with all sorts of people I was particularly drawn to this aspect of the film.
Thus, and in response to some other reviewers' comments, I think this movie is more character-driven than plot-driven. Instead of a story peopled by basically weakly developed characters employed primarily as a mere device to move the plot along, as is too frequently the case in the movies (especially these days), the undeniably strong, clever, and unpredictable plot lines in PULP FICTION are actually of essentially secondary interest and importance, serving primarily as vehicles to get you worried about the fate of characters you can't help caring about despite the truly low attributes that otherwise form the basis for their respective personas. As at least one other reviewer noted, when the film ends you are actually disappointed, left craving more of these crazy people and their explosive lives.
Finally, and as strange as it may sound, this film reminds me of another Monumentally Great Film which one would never typically associate with it in any way in a million years - CASABLANCA. As in that film made way back in 1942, and as another reviewer has suggested, perhaps its special appeal - its unusually high degree of emotional impact - lies in its distinctly successful simultaneous application of several different genres in a single film - drama, action, dark humor - with the whole thing bound together by essentially flawless execution in every department. And while CASABLANCA is no doubt clearly much more wholesome and high-minded, like the older film PULP FICTION is not without a pronounced theme of redemption, even if it is not as strongly felt, considering all the later film's sleaze and violence.
In sum, when people say that this is probably the best film of the 1990's, it is easy to see why. Fundamentally a truly outstanding movie, it is a must-see for anyone who considers themself a film buff and can handle graphic subject matter.
(Incidentally, if you would like a more toned-down, much more overtly humorous and less serious picture with a not-altogether dissimilar look and feel, don't miss another 1990's Travolta picture, GET SHORTY.)