Both the events related in the movie's story and the manner in which they are presented are consistently enthralling. In fact, the intricate structure of the narrative considerably adds to the film's charm and helps to draw the moviegoer into its fictional world. Having been intrigued by the lurid, frequently exaggerated adventures of Pulp Fiction's protagonists, the viewer is likely to be so fascinated by the movie's complex narrative, which is related in non-sequential snippets that fit together like pieces of a mosaic, that his enjoyment of the film is infused with a frightening sense of exhilaration.
What is more, the movie's dialogue is consistently clever and every conversation is, consequently, a delight to hear. Over the course of Pulp Fiction, Tarantino includes discussions about fast food cuisine in Europe, the appropriateness of a crime boss's having a man thrown out of a window because that man gave his wife a foot massage, and the retelling of a soldier's extreme ordeals to preserve a watch while he was being held prisoner in Vietnam. All of these give the film a quirky appeal that enthralls the viewer and engages him with the cruel, brutal men inhabiting its savage world.
Although most of the movie is dominated by a sense of gritty realism, it occasionally veers suddenly towards the improbable. At first, these exaggerated moments can be disconcerting, but they are actually in keeping with the general tone of the movie, which is, after all, pulp fiction, a lurid account of the nasty deeds of despicable men. Moreover, such scenes give the movie a sensationalistic quality, and, by reminding the viewer of similar sensationalistic accounts he might previously have encountered, they evoke the emotions experienced by the viewer when he was first presented with those other accounts. The wild excesses and unremitting brutality are, consequently, effective in enhancing the film's emotive impact.
Lastly, I should add that the acting in the movie is of a universally high calibre. Uma Thurman endows her character with a sexiness and sense of tragedy. Samuel L. Jackson successfully evokes a strange, violent ferocity. Even John Travolta, whose acting skills are usually noticeable by their absence, gives an excellent performance. He brings a sleazy, disreputable style and charm to his role. There is a hardly an actor in the movie who does not deserve credit for his work.
Pulp Fiction is a captivating, bewitching film. The viewer is left exhilarated by the experience of watching it, but his intoxication is mingled with a strong sense of horror at the various atrocities and tragedies he has witnessed. Each of these reactions complements and enhances the other, and the movie is, as a consequence, a memorable, affecting success.
Review by Keith Allen
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