The sound of breaking bones will stay with you – and then there’s that swinging door.
An Illusion review by Joan Ellis
“Kill Bill” is laced with sentiments like this one from Uma Thurman: “It was not my intention to do this in front of you; take my word for it, your mother had it comin’.” It seems everybody in this movie had it comin.’ Quentin Tarantino is a connoisseur of brutality. He absorbs the details of the pop culture and spits them back at us covered in the gruesome sauce soaked up in the passage through his imagination. If you don’t thrill to blood, amputation, dismemberment, beheading, necrophilia, and pedophilia, you might want to skip this one. I won’t even discuss the prolonged battle between a head and a swinging hospital door.
Tarantino’s fans see his violent imagery simply as an elevation of the horror genre to high style. Naysayers see it as a further injection of violent suggestion into an already toxic culture, an intolerable exercise in irresponsibility. Neither side will be convinced otherwise.
The not so complicated premise? Nine members of a wedding party have been executed in a designer bloodbath. The Bride (Uma Thurman), in wedding white and bloody red, survives. Comatose for four years, she awakens with vengeance coursing through her veins. She will hunt down the guilty members of DiVAS (Deadly Viper Assassination Squad) who act on the orders of the barbaric Bill of the title. As she works her way through the hit squad, every encounter pits The Bride against an equally accomplished killer. With knives, she takes on Vernita (Vivica A. Fox) in front of her daughter; then she survives the medieval hammer throw of Go Go Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama); and finally she faces O-Ren Ishi (Lucy Liu).
The movie belongs to Uma Thurman. She has acquired the tools of aggression and self-defense and wields them with confidence. It is she who sets Tarantino’s tone that the characters will show no emotion, deliberately assuming instead the two dimensional unreality of a comic book. Uma is the lead action figure in this cartoon, and she murders well. The sound of breaking bones will stay with you – and then there’s that swinging door. And this is just Volume A; we can look forward to B in February.
It’s hard to care much about people who have no feelings, and it’s even harder to stay involved when the film lacks completely the wit that sparkled throughout “Pulp Fiction.” Tarantino is nothing if not original as he stirs his pot of textures and sounds and choreographs the mayhem; but the heart of everything for him is brutality to human beings. He is so absorbed in violence that he has killed his own humor. He has become dull.
Watching the expansion of Tarantino’s movie mind over the years, I can only wonder about a man whose entire creative output consists of inventing new cruelties. I don’t buy any longer that he is a genius. I think finally, that he must live in some kind of awful madness.
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