mosquitodragon’s review published on Letterboxd:
I can't believe this movie is not talked about more. Who the hell is Quentin Tarantino?!?! Wow, what a talent - what a shame he never went on to make another film.
Sorry, writing a review for Reservoir Dogs just feels so pointless. Who am I telling about this movie? What can I say that hasn't been said a million times before? Either positive or negative??? Hey everyone, I like Reservoir Dogs quite a lot! No shit.
I guess there is this point about QT's inherent misogyny and racism because, you know, just listen to the dialogue. These hardened criminals just casually drop misogynistic and racist comments into their conversation. So, according to a simplistic world view which I can only envy (if only life was so straightforward), that means Tarantino himself must believe all that. Because how could someone write dialogue which is inconsistent with the writer's own beliefs? Seriously, these are fictional characters, people!!! Separate artist and art. Shall we cancel Sophocles for hating his father and screwing his mother? Shakespeare for his belief that his only path to success was to murder all his rivals? Did Picasso have a weird face with features all in the wrong place? These analogies are becoming a bit muddled, but you take my point!
Oh, of course, the rejoinder to that is how having characters say these things is unnecessary. Yeah? According to who? I think it adds a layer of compelling authenticity to the characters. I believe these guys - yes, even the "nicer" ones like Mr White - are people from a very scary side of humanity. This movie made me ponder the possibility that bank robbers aren't just normal people who would be just like me except for their life choice to steal money instead of make it - their whole psyche is geared towards conflict, violence, and machismo. When I first entered the world of Reservoir Dogs, I was suddenly in a very dangerous and frightening place. This world doesn't care if it's politically incorrect - in fact, it's essential that it's uninhibited about putting all its ugliness out on display.
And yet, we can still engage with these characters because they can exhibit noble qualities like loyalty and brotherhood. We can imagine joking around with them (mind you, I reckon I'd last maybe an hour before getting killed by one of them for some reason). Although they're really all monsters, in this bizarro world, where all relativity is reframed, some are more monstrous than others. In the case of Mr Blonde, so monstrous that even a scumbag like Mr Pink seems like a totally reasonable guy in comparison.
What I think I'd never appreciated before is how this film is really not an action film - like, not at all. It's actually a melodrama, and a rather stagey one at that. But it's so well written. And no I'm not just talking about the snappy dialogue. I'm talking about the drama and revelation and the plot escalation. Tarantino's penchant for fucking around with the linearity of time is oft criticised, but this film is one where the conceit is fully justified. We learn things from different time periods in exactly the right sequence to maximise the dramatic heft. It's masterful.
Ah, man, it's heady, heady stuff. A massively important film to me personally, falling as it did at such a formative time for my own development. And every time I revisit it, my respect for it grows. Surely one of the great classics of crime cinema - I mean, it's right up there.