It’s hard to pick favourites when it comes to film, books and songs. I mean, there are so many amazing works out there, to pick just one as your champion is nigh on impossible. Plus, these things tend to undulate with your moods.
I have two* favourite movies that always stick and they have something in common, that old chestnut: the strong female lead.
I know Hollywood talks about the strong female lead like it’s doing the world a favour and it can be annoying. A lead is a lead surely, regardless of gender. But alas, this is the world we live in (for now) and this isn’t a post about that.
Both films have a Tarantino influence; one is directed by him, the other written by. Which shows me that, while he might come across as a annoying arse at times, he knows how to give us great female characters. Not great actually, THE BEST.
But to the subject of today’s post. Step up here, Alabama Worley (née Whitman), you angel.
Played fantastically by the beautiful Patricia Arquette, Alabama is True Romance (1993). Actually she is everything; a badass, a fighter – an ICON and surely one of the best characters in movie history.
Let’s look at the evidence. To the untrained eye you could be forgiven for seeing her as just another ditz, along for the ride with her bad boy husband, nothing but a giggling slice of arm candy with no real function. You’d be wrong though.
While Alabama narrates her own love story, she is anything but an empty vessel. Sure, she’s a romantic, impulsively marrying Clarence a day after meeting him, even proclaiming it”…so romantic!” when he later admits to killing her pimp in a violent showdown. Sure, she’s feminine in an overtly sexual way; all tight leggings and short skirts (best personal style ever).
She’s nurturing and pure of heart; she even tastes like a peach if Clarence (and his father) are to be believed.
But all these qualities live comfortably within a resilient, smart woman. Not once does she ask for help from her man, or anybody else for that matter. This is no damsel in distress. Clarence spirals out of control because he struggles with the idea that his wife was once a call girl. She’s cool with it and unapologetic. Clarence is the one who feels like he has something to prove: his own masculinity.
Alabama is strong and she’s brave too, taking a horrific beating mid way through the film from the mob’s hit man, Virgil (I’m writing this assuming you’ve all seen this film, ain’t nobody got time to explain plot). It’s horrible to watch but also illustrates who she is.
Alabama emerges victorious, proving that for love she will fight tooth and nail; and she’ll fight with her wits. It’s beautiful, once you come to terms with the violence and even Virgil has to concede that she really is something else.
Afterwards, bloodied and bruised, ‘bama’s still okay, still smiling and still standing. She is a BADASS.
I don’t need to tell you that she also saves her husband’s life in the end, when shit hits the fan on a messed up drug deal. As the bullets whiz past her and the blood flows, Alabama gets up and she walks her badly injured lover right out of harm’s way. She drives him to safety, never looking back.
It’s a happy ending (thankfully, the original script allegedly WAS NOT) and it’s the best. I will never tire of True Romance; of the characters, of the dialogue, of the aesthetic.
I even have a “You’re So Cool” tattoo on my wrist, homage to the loveliest mantra:
Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool.
I guess that’s why I love Alabama so much, she’s real and a romantic, just like me.
*I’ll share my second favourite film in another post soon. Promise.
All image via Google.