A Filmmaker's Review: 'Jackie Brown' (1997)
5/5 = Yes, I re-watched my favourite Tarantino Movie
Jackie Brown (1997) is my all-time favourite Tarantino movie and it has been for a few years now, even though others like Django Unchained and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood etc. have come out since. Nothing really matches the classic criminality and multi-layered plot of the Golden Age of Tarantino film—Jackie Brown (1997). It is a modern classic of cinema technique and possibly Tarantino's best effort to make a film based around one black woman. A woman he named an action hero.
The film begins by introducing us to Jackie Brown, the air hostess who also smuggles drugs and gets herself involved with crime because of her poor financial situation. We then move on to being introduced to the next plot involving Ordell and Louis who are, in fact, criminals who start the film by bailing Beaumont out of jail only to kill him because he may talk to the police about them. Establishing the hidden nature of these characters is essential to show how they would be pitted against each other.
The one thing that the film highlights as well as killing for money is humanity's crime which is to kill for fun or without reason. Louis shoots Melanie in a parking lot without having that much of a good reason, Ray shoots Ordell instead of just arresting him, Ordell shoots Beaumont without just talking to him. These people believed that they had good reasons, but the audience would beg to differ. It is a great way to portray humanity's biggest problem: to kill without good reason.
The cinematic experience of the film is something to be admired. At this time, we were in the Golden Age of Tarantino; we were witnessing the rise of a talent that would surely take over film textbooks everywhere. But in Jackie Brown (1997), Tarantino displays his best talent: satire. The beginning of the film, a parody of Dustin Hoffman's opening in The Graduate seems to be part and parcel of the all-American film scene satire that Tarantino is subtly putting out there and, after being accused of blaxploitation, he used the song "110th Street" in order to give in to this pretense whilst also making fun of the accusers with great humility.
The reason why this is my favourite Tarantino movie is because it experiments with the multi-layered story in a way that Pulp Fiction probably doesn't. As opposed to the latter, Jackie Brown eventually brings all the characters together at the end of the movie, whereas in Pulp Fiction some of the characters don't even meet each other. Jackie Brown tells you exactly what the ending is from the very beginning of the film and that is the key. When you watch the film over and over, you get these hints at the end, the kind of hints Pulp Fiction doesn't give you. The entire experience of the film relies heavily on you following each character meticulously. You follow Jackie through her hardship, Ordell through his criminality, Max through his fence-sitting thought processes between right and wrong, Melanie through her stories about Ordell, Ray through his arresting of Jackie and finally, Beaumont through his short and uneventful life.
Another reason why this is my favourite Tarantino film is because it uses a range of different techniques to tell the story and draw you into different characters. From the very start of the film, the multiple characters are established and yet, Tarantino leaves us routing for none of them. All of them are in it for themselves in some way, shape or form—all display selfishness in which they are doing something for their own good regardless of someone else. As the film progresses, this is the mindset we have and we go along with, which means that we are desensitised to the deaths of certain characters.
So, here we have a film that has a legacy overshadowed by Pulp Fiction, its predecessor, but, on its own is an amazing film. The range of techniques, the characters and their stories, the multi-plot and the satire all go together to create a Tarantino experience that cannot be recreated.