Natural Born Killers (1994)

Natural Born Killers
Directed by Oliver Stone
Written by David Veloz, Richard Rutowski & Oliver Stone based on a story by Quentin Tarantino
(number 372)

Okay well this movie opened with ‘waiting for the miracle’ by Leonard Cohen so I was instantly hooked, I freaking love that song.

The last film I saw Juliette Lewis in was Whip It, and I have to say, it’s not a hugely different character for her. Woody Harrelson is always a good time, I think this was the first ‘out there’ character that he played, though. These days it’s easy to associate him with True Detective or The Hunger Games, or his whacked out character in 2012 or Tallahassee in Zombieland. I suspect this movie opened him up to those roles.

It’s filmed like a psychedelic Tarantino fever dream, with scenes flicking between colour and black and white when violence happens, showing visions and going to a fucked up sitcom sequence for a flashback. That sequence is very messed up, lots of sexual abuse and incest and grossness. Looking at how it’s told and knowing that it’s told from the point of view of two characters who do not care about human life, it’s hard to know how much is ‘true’ and how much is psychosis.

There’s a huge amount of Tarantino in this movie, from the 70s filter its to the random anime, to the casual use of rape and violence. The message is unsubtle ‘too much TV = serial killer’, and it’s hard to take seriously, but at the same time it is pretty disturbing. I’m not sure exactly what the purpose of this movie is, because it’s drenched in style for the sake of it, not to aid the story telling or the exploration of the characters.

Robert Downey Jr plays the TV journalist who is obsessed with the two killers and runs the whole gamut of emotion while talking to Mickey, therefore making Mickey look like the reasonable one. It’s a great performance from RDJ but there’s no sympathy to be had for that character, at all.

Does it make me love the people? Nope. This movie isn’t about understanding humans, or furthering the empathy that the viewer has for the people around them. Instead it’s a confused mish mash of images, talk and music set to extreme Americana, which it both celebrates and derides.

Bechdel test: Straight away Mallory talks to Rosie about pie, so yes, it’s passes. But I don’t think it passes again at any point, for the most part Mallory talks to Mickey and he does the talking for both of them to others.

Best line:
Mickey: You know, the only thing that kills the demon… is love.

State of Mind: Urgh. That was pretty dumb. I just didn’t really see the point in it. That said, putting ‘the future’ by Leonard Cohen over the end credits was all kinds of perfect. But meh, not watching that again. By the time the prison riot started up I was so sick of all the violence and death, the casual background torture was just gross to me. I was totally over it, and ready for the film to end.

Watched movie count