Tarantino’s Way with Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown - poster

As a big Tarantino fan, Jackie Brown was the odd one out, the one film in his oeuvre that I had never seen.  And it’s about what I expected and nothing more.

Which is a little bit of a disappointment.  Because when it comes to Quentin Tarantino, I’ve come to expect something more, an added dimension which will lift his pictures above and beyond.  I did not find that in Jackie Brown.

Now, it’s perfectly good entertainment; a linear crime story told with steady drama that doesn’t let up.  But that story is too simple for its 154-minute running time.  Tarantino did not try to ascend any summits in Jackie Brown; his flatland course is set and he stays on that course.  He does construct a life-or-death scenario which is very effective, and it’s good storytelling.  But nothing more.

Jackie Brown - text blockI’ve always given Tarantino credit: with the incredible success and groundbreaking nature of the masterpiece Pulp Fiction, many a lesser movie maker would have been tempted to recreate that winning formula, or worse, make an outright sequel.  I’m sure there was some pressure to capitalize on Pulp Fiction‘s success by essentially copying it.  But Tarantino wasn’t interested in doing Pulp Fiction part II.  And he realized that Pulp Fiction’s formula would not translate to any other film.  Nobody was every going to copy Pulp Fiction, including Tarantino himself.  So he followed it up with the very different Jackie Brown.  It’s one of his weaker pictures, but he did it his way.

Being the exceptional talent he is, Tarantino, taking his time, eventually made another truly great film, Inglourious Basterds, and followed that up with one more great, Django Unchained.  Two movies that are completely different from one-another and Pulp Fiction, and yet fully accomplished on all levels.  Did they reach the rarefied air of Pulp Fiction?  No, but that’s a near-impossibility for any filmmaker.

Jackie Brown will hold you engaged for its entire running time, which is no easy task.  But I wanted more.  6/10

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One thought on “Tarantino’s Way with Jackie Brown

  1. I saw this in the theater (with Mom), and I thought it was good, but not great. I’ve seen it a couple times since, and it’s really grown on me. I like it a lot more now.

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