Jackie Brown

Dir: Quentin Tarantino. 1997. Starring: P. Grier, R. Forster, S. L. Jackson, R. DeNiro, M. Keaton, B. Fonda, C.Tucker. English. Action.
Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (Grier) is a struggling middle-aged flight attendant who gets popped smuggling laundered cash into the country by a two eager-beaver cops (Keaton & Bowen). They give her two choices—prison or her help nabbing weapon’s dealer, Ordell Robbie (Jackson). But they don’t account for a third option—with the help of stand up bail bondsman, Max Cherry (Forster), Jackie plans to out con everyone one of them.

Based on Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch, Jackie Brown is a beautifully woven intermixing of characters and styles of two very talented dark comedy writers. Tarantino’s most significant change was with the title character—making her a black woman, rather than Italian. I think this change made the film almost like a Blaxploitation movie for the modern age. It’s as if Grier’s character, “Coffy,” had to conform as she grew older, but was still not a woman to mess with. The plot is clever and the dialogue, razor sharp.

Jackie Brown brings together one of the finer ensemble casts in the last twenty-five years. The leads, Grier and Forster, remind us why they were so popular in the seventies, in a very honest and believable tale of love and attraction.

Samuel L. Jackson plays a charming, smooth-talking sociopath, in one of his finest roles. Robert DeNiro plays his recently paroled friend, in one of his quietest, most internal, performances. In general, the casting was pitch perfect in each case.

Tarantino’s direction in this film is the most reserved, but perhaps most emotionally precise, work of his career. He presents the seedy underside of the L.A. crime world through the lens of very likable, although morally questionable, characters. Tarantino says of this film, that he wanted to make something that each time you watched it, was like spending time with old friends. Considering how the film gets richer with every viewing, and has become my favorite of his work, he certainly succeeded in that.

Look for a wonderful homage to Stanley Kubrick’s crime classic, The Killing, in the film’s final act.


Jackie Brown was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Robert Forster).

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
May 10, 2008 4:34pm
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