Our Daily Trailer: JACKIE BROWN

When Max met Jackie.

Everyone loves Jackie Brown, but it still strikes me as Quentin Tarantino's most taken-for-granted film. Perhaps that makes sense: it's his most grounded and evenly-paced work, lacking both the narrative gymnastics (Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bills) and the satisfying bloodlust (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained) that have become synonymous with Tarantino over the years. Relatively speaking, Jackie Brown is a sweet, low-key, and relatively bloodless affair. It's his most mature film by a wide margin.

Further setting it apart from the standard Tarantino joint: the unlikely romance at the center of the film, between Robert Forster's Max Cherry and Pam Grier's titular heroine. The first time Max sees Jackie (as she exits an LA County jail to the tune of Bloodstone's "Natural High"; see below), he falls for her, and Forster sells the moment perfectly.

Max has been sent to bail Jackie out after she's busted working as a mule for a local gunrunner (and big-time blowhard) by the name of Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). His courtship of her begins immediately upon retrieving her from lockup: all Max really has to do is get Jackie back home, but he asks her out for a drink a few minutes into the ride. He's so smitten that, when Jackie steals Max's gun from the glove compartment, he doesn't react... well, like any bail bondsman might act in the same situation. You get the impression he finds it kind of charming.

As Jackie schemes to win immunity from the ATF while also fleecing Ordell for a cool half-million dollars, she and Max form a bond: he likes the music she's into ("Who is this?" "The Delfonics."), she admires the badassedness required to be a bondsman; he ain't too happy to find himself on the far side of middle-aged, and neither is she! Soon enough, Jackie and Max's bond deepens as they plan a full-on heist together (in the middle of a low-rent shopping mall, no less). When Max finds out Jackie's been out to dinner with one of the ATF agents, he gets touchy: "You think this guy has a thing for you?" It's delightful.

And really, revisiting Jackie Brown today, you can reaaaally appreciate just how lighthearted this film really ended up being when compared to the rest of Tarantino's filmography. It actually feels gentle, even as Chris Tucker's being executed in the trunk of a car or Bridget Fonda's shrew-y surfer gal Melanie is getting clipped in the parking lot of the aforementioned low-rent mall. A lot of that's just the tone, but a lot of it's also Max and Jackie's odd little romance.

In the end, Max and Cherry's romance leads to a categorical victory-- Jackie's vindicated, Ordell's dead, and that stolen half-million arrives safely. Well, actually, it's an almost categorical victory: Jackie and Max don't stick together in the end. When Jackie shows up at Max's office offering to start over together in Spain, Max has to decline. He'd followed her this far, but at his age, traipsing off to Madrid with a suitcase full of cash is one step too far into life's adventure pool. She leaves, and as she drives away, Tarantino holds a shot on Grier for nearly two minutes. Two minutes to just sit and look at Jackie and reflect on that choice. Maybe it's two minutes to look at Pam Grier, and reflect on aging, and life's curveballs. It's a sad ending for these characters, but it's a thoughtful, satisfying ending for the film.