Jackie Brown is perhaps the most overlooked of Tarantino’s movies, and I’ll admit that I had never even heard of it before I did some research on the man. My guess would be that it has become overlooked because it is not like other Tarantino films; there are fewer rambling monologues, and less gratuitous death for example. Nevertheless, I finished this film satisfied.
Jackie Brown opens with Pam Grier rolling on a moving walkway, with the credits rolling in front of her and a song by Bobby Womack playing, a lovely tip of the hat to The Graduate. While she is the protagonist in this film, she hardly features onscreen, and it’s only half an hour in that we’re introduced to her character.
Jackie Brown (Grier) is a flight attendant who is held by the police for having drugs on her, as well as $50,000 in cash. She is let out on the agreement that she will help the police track down an illegal arms dealer, Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson). He is expecting half a million dollars to be delivered to him through Jackie, but he knows that the cops are onto her. Through clever manipulation, Jackie manages to bring the film to a satisfying crunch near the end.
It’s not usually the sort of thing I’d be interested in, but Tarantino’s characters coupled with his fantastic directorial style really brings the story to life. The use of music is very interesting too, and in one scene, three separate (and very good) songs are used as a sort of leitmotif to distinguish between the characters. Interestingly enough, Robert De Niro appears in this film as Jackson’s sidekick, which is not the way around I’d cast them, but it works nonetheless.
Despite being two-and-a-half hours long, I felt the film was paced just right, perhaps due to the fact that the dialogue was usually to do with the plot. With most Tarantino fans, you have to trust that he’s going to deliver something wonderful later on in the film, and in Jackie Brown, the money exchange scene, delivered in Rashomon style with three different points of view, is certainly worth the wait. However, that’s not to say that I was bored for the rest of it, as the build up was just as intriguing as the main event.
If you like Tarantino and have not seen this flick, then I thoroughly recommend it, as you may just be surprised. It may not be as explosive and dynamic as Pulp Fiction, but it’s a very interesting and satisfying movie nonetheless. Also, the soundtrack is gold.