Tony Scott’s 1993 film titled “True Romance” is wonderful, poorly-aged and a classic. The film has everything you could ever want from a picture; an endearing love story between two beautiful people, a cross country drug heist, Dennis Hopper getting a hole put in between his eyes and James Gandolfini giving a non-canon Tony Soprano prelude. Start to finish, the music gets your heartbeat pumping to the pace of the movie. And, Quentin Tarantino gets a major writing credit, so from start to finish he captivates the mind with his winding, thrilling plot, all while making sure everyone knows he really likes feet. Praise for this film could be endless, but my praise stops now because “True Romance” ruined my life.
A very concise summary of the plot: Through thievery, a couple in Detroit finds themselves in the possession of a suitcase full of over $200,000 worth of mob cocaine. The couple knows they’re being tailed by someone, so they book it to California and stay with the man’s friend, who has an in with Hollywood— their prospective coke customer. Naturally, the mob follows, the cops get involved and it ends in a penthouse shootout where only the couple and the $200,000 survive. Romantic, butt-clenching cinema.
The depiction of the couple is what stuck out to me. The main character, Clarence, who I really connect with, is a loser who hasn’t been laid in “over a year.” He spends his weekends watching martial arts movies at the theater while his weeks are filled with work at the comic book store. He’s kind of a dork, but in my eyes he’s an everyman. His love interest, Alabama, is a call-girl who was sent to Clarence by his boss as a very unprofessional birthday gift. Of course, they fall in love. They star in my favorite scene— the scene where they finally kiss and hookup, but my eyes are covered for the latter. Overall, their arc is heartwarming and most enviable, but it is because of this that it destroys me: their relationship is full of unattainable romance and conflict.
I sit across from a woman at a coffee shop. We’re going sip for sip and bite for bite. Yes, it’s nice and she’s beautiful but I so badly want to turn to her and say, “Why don’t we (safely and without bloodshed) rob this joint and skip town? Just you, me, chasing pavement until we can’t see it anymore.” No, the height of tension within this “relationship” with this girl will be the final argument we have before she tells me I should “seek help” and to “stop acting like that.” There just aren’t any stakes in an ordinary relationship! My life will never be on the line like Clarence and Alabama’s were in “True Romance.”
This envy affected me the same way watching Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” did. Seeing Ansel Elgort whip his car like a madman inspired me to spend the next weekend driving way too fast through one of my hometown’s residential neighborhoods. When someone watches a film, when someone immerses themselves into a story, the release and the detachment of the narrative hits like a hangover in a, “man, I wish I could do that” type of way.
I want my blood to be fire-y, coursing through my body like a freshly broken levee, leaving me hot in the head and seeing red, as I hide behind a couch with my Alabama just as they did in the film. Lacking a grand narrative pushes silly desires into the mental, such as my “True Romance” inspired desire to ride a stolen Athens Police Department horse with my partner of roughly four days, bobbing and weaving our way to and from a bar where we were kicked out for finishing off random, unattended drinks. That's my own mob heist.
I need to hop into bed at night tired from counting up the cash we collected throughout the course of the day. To sleep next to my Alabama, knowing my other half is complete, to dream up the next thievery or eco-terrorism we will commit against the federal government, is all I desire. True, proper security in the state of our relationship through committing heinous acts together.
But, naturally, I’ll never have any of that. While I am in the same position Clarence is, spending my nights at the Athena Cinema, I’m doomed to a lifetime of romantic encounters full of simply sitting across a table, or standing adjacently and unmoving, or laying next to another. My reality will never, ever be as exciting as “True Romance.” There will be no coke-chasing mob. I’m not a post-murder-heist Clarence, and any woman close to Alabama’s worth isn’t going to be sent to me. My girlfriend will never use the lid of a toilet as a weapon against Tony Soprano and it sucks!
I don’t live in a movie, none of us do. The extraordinary is not truly extra ordinary. Nothing truly goofy or Tarantino-esque happens to the average person. We have to dance in the moonlight, feel the wind on our faces, taste the bonfire smoke in the air; we have to escape the envy, escape our desire to live in fictional worlds with fictional plots like losers. “True Romance,” or any movie really, will never play in my presence again as revenge for ruining my life.
Matthew Butcher is a sophomore studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Matthew know by tweeting him @mattpbutcher.