Jackie Brown (1997)

Regular readers will know I swing between loathing Quentin Tarantino to singing his praise from the high heavens.  I really am that confused about him.

For the record, I like: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction (with some reservations), I like parts of True Romance (although I know Tony Scott changed the structure and he directed it not QT) I like the second part of Kill Bill. I like the Hateful Eight, mixed on Inglorious. I loved Once Upon a Time in Hollywood –  I fucking adored it. So, I’m confused. Because…

…Everything else I’m not that keen on. Then there’s Jackie Brown. The film is one of the better Elmore Leonard adaptations. I love Pam Grier, Robert Forster was inspired casting and deserved all the plaudits. Sam Jackson, DeNiro and Bridget Fonda all nail their parts.

QT takes his time with the direction, it’s slower and more mature than many of his other films. But…

…It doesn’t quite work does it?  It doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts. It’s very close to the book, but the book is more emotionally satisfying and the film just doesn’t pull enough of the strands together at the very end.

I thought this when I saw the film back in the 90s in the cinema. A near miss.

Elmore Leonard once famously gave his character Chilli Palmer, in the novel ‘Get Shorty’ the line ‘Endings man, not as easy as they look…’ and it’s never been truer than in this film.  And believe me; I’d invested enough to want it to work, but it just falls short.  I watch the film every few years, willing the end to work.

So, I like Jackie Brown, but it was maybe a bit of an overreach for QT. However, I’d love to see him have a crack at some more Elmore Leonard, there are other books he could choose, that deserve a film. He has the talent (I think) to make a masterpiece from one of Elmore’s books. But, maybe this attempt, put him off. And maybe, he figured he was better suited to material he originated.

It’s a damn shame anyway…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service and script development service are highly sought after.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020.

You can get in touch with Matthew on matcoop23@yahoo.co.uk.