I always get the feeling that most people forget that True Romance was Quentin Tarantino’s first film. He may not have directed it — Tony Scott did — but it’s obviously a Tarantino film, due to the copious pop culture references, cracking dialog, and inventive casting (seriously, Brad Pitt has never been better).
The “Sicilian Scene” is rife with obscenity and foulness, but like so many of Tarantino’s best scenes, it transcends mere obscenity through amazing dialog (e.g., “You tell the angels in heaven you never seen evil so singularly personified as you did in the face of the man who killed you.”) and stellar performances by Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, both of whom have rarely been better.
Here’s the basic set-up: Walken plays Vincent Coccotti, a suave-yet-malevolent bastard who is looking for the son of Clifford Worley (Hopper). Worley’s son has stolen some of Coccotti’s drugs and made a run for it, and so Coccotti has come to shake up the old man for info. Worley attempts to lie about his son’s whereabouts, but Coccotti’s having none of that — he’s Sicilian, after all — and Worley realizes that he’s a dead man regardless of how he answers Coccotti’s questions. And that’s when the good stuff begins.
It’s all about the little details, really: Coccotti’s body language as he simultaneously tries to threaten and persuade Worley; the way that Coccotti’s goon throws Worley a rag to clean off his freshly sliced-open-and-doused-in-alcohol hand; Worley’s little glance at his lighter; Coccotti’s attempts to remain composed once Worley starts his history lesson; the gentle swell of the soundtrack; and so on. My favorite part, though, starts at about 5:40. Worley, knowing he’s a dead man, asks for a cigarette and takes a long drag before staring Coccotti in the eyes, knowing his doom is certain and yet moving forward anyway in an attempt to save his son.