When I think of a favorite scene from Pulp Fiction, about a dozen images come to mind: the red spot on Mia’s chest, Vincent’s Santa Cruz t-shirt, the glowing briefcase, the list goes on. But the scene I think perfectly encapsulates the movie is what I believe to be the most intimate scene of the movie, when Butch (Bruce Willis) returns from his boxing match to the motel where his girlfriend Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) awaits him.
Butch, who has a very dangerous gangster after him, is a violent, lying double-crosser himself: not only did he fail to throw the match, he even killed his opponent. What a surprise it is to then see the affection and tenderness he shows Fabienne. They may be on the run, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t time for talk about why pot bellies look better on women than men, and even a reference to Madonna (a throwback to the first scene in Reservoir Dogs?). When Fabienne states: “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye are seldom the same,” it becomes a universal truth that the audience can relate to despite the fantastic context of the scene. The actors are so perfectly cast — another great skill of Tarantino’s – that we can indulge even more in these captivating conversations. (I wish de Medeiros was in more English language films after this.)
This is what makes a Tarantino movie a “Tarantino movie:” the perfect juxtaposition of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Whether it’s two hitmen talking about the politics of a foot massage or “The Wolf” discussing a dead body in suburban LA, it is the style of the words, expertly delivered, that makes us care about the characters, no matter how unlike us they may be.