Review: Jackie Brown (1997)

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino | 154 minutes | drama, thriller, crime | Actors: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Chris Tucker, Michael Bowen, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Tommy Lister, Hattie Winston, Sid Haig

Elmore Leonard wrote the book, ‘Rum Punch’, on which this film is based. The funny thing is, after reading the book, Quentin Tarantino based the character of Jackie Brown on actress Pam Grier. It wasn’t until he reread the book that he found out that Jackie Brown is white in the book. The characters are believable, the acting is excellent. The shots are beautiful. It starts when we see Pam Grier in her flight attendant outfit and profile standing on the assembly line, then running to catch her plane. Very nicely portrayed, with the colored tiles in the background.

One of Quentin Tarantino’s many talents is casting ‘has been’ actors in major roles. For example, John Travolta’s career revived after ‘Pulp Fiction’. This film pays tribute to Pam Grier and Robert Forster. Both actors do a great job in this movie. Pam Grier is a strong, intelligent woman, who manipulates the men around her as if it were a hobby rather than a necessity. Robert Forster is fantastic as Max Cherry, the person who gets Jackie Brown out of jail by paying her bail. It’s so touching to see him in the music store buying a cassette tape from The Delfonics. The sentimental look in his eyes when he looks at Jackie, the crush is flying off the screen! A worse movie would no doubt include a sex scene between the two. Fortunately, that is missing in this film. A beautiful role is also reserved for the bad guy in the film, Samuel L. Jackson, dealer in illegal weapons. It can’t just be because of his appearance that you see a completely different person here than in his previous roles. What a versatile actor! His long hair and the braid in his beard are ideas of his own. His noisy, busy character is diametrically opposed to the quiet, somewhat sluggish characters of Robert De Niro and Robert Forster. Robert De Niro stars as Ordell’s comrade, Louis Gara. He’s just been out of jail for four days and it all seems to leave him indifferent, until a certain, crucial, moment in the film. Such a supporting actor is daring, but Robert De Niro manages not to steal the show, he acts in a modest way, but that benefits the character he portrays. Bridget Fonda is formidable as a surfer babe and girlfriend of Ordell, Melanie. She is continuously high and seems to have no ambition other than getting high and watching TV. But meanwhile, she tries to fool her boyfriend Ordell.

The music is well chosen, even if you don’t like Motown you’ll have to admit that the music supports the movie perfectly. Admittedly, it’s a long film, but despite that, the story remains captivating without being annoyed by the slow course of the story. The film was less well received by some Tarantino fans, precisely because of the almost sluggish pace and the violence often off-screen. However, the – often humorous – dialogues and character developments are still fully present to give this film the appreciation it deserves.

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