One of the greatest movies ever made. Praised by critics. Worshipped by audiences. A personal favorite of yours truly. A movie that changed the way we watched movies and made Quentin Tarantino a household name. So why is Pulp Fiction, the box-office smash, today’s victim of re-imagining? Because there’s always been one thing, one teensy tiny thing, about this movie that’s bothered me. Let’s load up and take a shot.
The Plot in a Nutshell (spoilers!)
Three stories. Vincent Vega, a smooth hit man, takes his boss’ wife out for a fun evening but it all takes a turn for the worst as he’s barely able to save her after she OD’s on his drugs. Butch Coolidge, a veteran boxer on the run from a ruthless gangster, sneaks back to his apartment to retrieve his father’s watch, and in a twist, saves the gangster from creepy rednecks. Jules Winfield, Vincent’s partner, is reborn after experiencing “divine intervention” followed by a backseat accident and two would-be thieves.
Everything with this movie is superb: the acting, the writing, the characters, the dialogue, the set design, the cinematography, the music, etc. This movie is deserving of all its praise. There’s almost nothing to change except two small characters: Esmarelda Villalobos and Fabienne.
After Butch escapes from the boxing match he’s picked up in a cab by Esmarelda. Having just heard the fight on the radio, she asks Butch how he feels about killing his opponent in the match. After Butch says he’s unapologetic he calls a bookie friend to ask about their winnings. Esmarelda drops him off at his hotel room where he meets his French girlfriend Fabienne. After she explains her admiration of “pot bellies”, they make love, take a shower, then plan their future together in foreign countries. Soon after Butch realizes Fabienne forgot to pack his watch and he’s forced to retrieve it.
The moments between Butch’s escape from the boxing match to when he realizes his watch is missing are very slow and break up the action for too long. The previous story ends with the intensely well-known needle scene and later this story turns into a Deliverence-esque adventure. A movie as smooth yet cringeworthy as this shouldn’t slow down for so long, especially considering this story is a huge change from the previous and following ones. All the talk about “pot bellies,” Butch’s “retard” joke, and the “motorcycle movie” Fabienne is watching add nothing to the story. It’s unneeded filler (Death Proof anyone?)
I would simply cut Esmarelda’s scene but not her dialogue. Her character is unneeded and Butch can simply jump into the cab, be taken directly to his hotel, call his friend about their winnings, and then talk to Fabienne. Drop all the talk about “pot bellies” and have Fabienne be the one who asks Butch how he feels about killing the other boxer. It would not only develop Fabienne’s character but also develop her relationship with Butch. Butch is a ruthless killer while Fabienne, who’s portrayed as naively innocent, has a twisted side; she’s fascinated by violence. It perfectly explains their relationship and makes their scene so much darker and fascinating. She’s the little girl who likes bad boys while Butch likes to be the big man in control.
Everything else would continue exactly the way it is in the movie. This small change simply adds more to these two characters, moves the story along a little faster, and adds more intensity to the situation. Aside from that, everything is “kool and the gang”.
Thank you all for reading and I look forward to re-imagining another movie with you next week.