Written By: Jenn-Anne Gledhill
On Valentine’s Day, I saw the greatest love story on screen I’ve seen all year, and quite possibly, all decade: Quentin Tarantino’s “Django, Unchained.” This Valentine Massacre included all the schmaltzy greeting card symbols necessary for a proper February 14th: exaggerated amounts of the color red (in the form of blood covering the walls like some gory Haunted House wall paper), hearts exploding (literally and figuratively), and a romantic love capable of reaching across the impossible, unwilling to take “never” for an answer, and able to break the shackles of body, mind, and soul.
The plot: A slave (Django) is freed by a bounty hunter for his ability to identify three men on a Wanted poster, the very three men responsible for beating his wife with a bullwhip. Once freed, Django and the bounty hunter go looking for his bride and the rest….Oh m’ goodness…
I will pull back the gush to an appropriate amount for this literary concern, and move the conversation back upstairs. Back into the brain, a brain that yearns to date Tarantino’s brain. (Even a one night stand with his brain would be fine with this writer’s brain.)
It is difficult, however, to stick to the script when discussing one of Quentin’s films. So much of his brand comes from a hodge-podge of elements so specific to the Tarantino experience. Listen left: an almost irreverently anachronistic soundtrack. Look right: highly stylized special effects of bullets ripping through chests with just the right balance of splatter and sticky tendons spurting out from the point blank shot to the face. Look left: screamingly funny tangles of unpredictable dialogue spilling out from behind the white hoods of racist cowards. Look right: funkadelic costumes that twist and pop with bits of surprise.
Not a second of this film is boring. Not a frame is wasted. My “Let’s get real about how much free time people have in modern society and keep your film to ninety minutes, please” preference is made to be broken by (only) movies of this caliber.
There are staggering shifts in power and status all across the film’s sprawling collection of disgusting, unlikeable, despicable, laughable, pathetic, despondent, vile, despicable, valiant, powerful, empathetic, negligible, and, for the most part, doomed cast of players. (A spoiler alert in a movie by a director of any other name) There are scenes so painful I wanted to run out of the movie theater. I wanted to scream through the overlit lobby and start knocking over popcorn vats and candy cases in protest against the monumentally disappointing behavior of mankind through the ages. But the bow of this story demands that the arrow of hideousness be pulled just so. Back….back…..back….so that when it is finally released, that sharpened arrow has the power sail into, and then through the bullseye of redemption. Django style Redemption. By film’s end, Django is an unapologetic hero, and we, his minions, are unapologetic in cheering him on, loudly and rudely, with slobbery “Hell yeah’s!!” being slung and spit at the screen during those final minutes when Django …
Just carve out a three hour window and go see it, friend.