I almost got fired for this woman.
It was sometime during the summer of 1993 and I was working at an independent video store in Northwest Portland. It was a great job and I worked there for years. Of course, one of the perks was that we’d get free passes to see movies every now and then. I lucked out and was given one for two to see True Romance at the Lloyd Center Cinemas. The catch, though, was that I couldn’t leave work early to see it. I got off at 7:00. The movie started at 7:30. I had to race out, jump on a #15 bus and ride it downtown, then bolt onto the MAX and ride that across the river to the cinema, then try to get a seat. No way was I going to get in that screening on time and I had to see this movie.
It was based on a Quentin Tarantino script, the first release after Reservoir Dogs, and a year or so before Pulp Fiction shook the film world. It had a great cast and it co-starred the lovely Patricia Arquette, who I’d had a crush on since seeing her in that third Nightmare on Elm Street movie. We’re roughly the same age (I think she’s a year older) and I was smitten. I was going to get into that fucking movie.
I left about ten minutes early. I got in. I loved the movie. And I almost got fired the next day when I slunk into the store and was given a serious reprimand by the co-owner who had checked up on me. I apologized… sincerely… and was grateful to still have my cool job.
But it was all worth it. She was worth it.
It’s Arquette’s birthday today and she is definitely one of my favorite things when it comes to modern actors. I don’t like everything she does–she’s woefully miscast in John Boorman’s screechingly earnest Beyond Rangoon–and she doesn’t have a lot of dramatic range. But so what? She made for a perfect cinematic dream girl for this movie-mad American male during the 1990s. And she’s still lovely.
David Lynch obviously thought she made for the perfect object of unobtainable desire in his superbly creepy and sexy 1997 neo-noir Lost Highway, my favorite of his movies. Playing duel roles in it, duel symbols of a sometimes frightening female sexual power, Arquette entered that rarefied realm of ultimate noir siren. A siren worth risking it all for.
And like all great cinematic sirens, particularly of the noir variety, she is forever out of reach.
But that’s what repeat viewing was intended for.