Lawrence O'Toole
December 24, 1993 AT 05:00 AM EST

With a fantastical gold-lame-clad Elvis purring in his ears and the love of his life (Patricia Arquette) at his side, a comic-store clerk (Christian Slater) heads to L.A. with a suitcase full of cocaine, one step ahead of the mob. So goes True Romance , a sleeper that is a Kama Sutra of killing.

Every character in Quentin Tarantino’s terrific, terrifyingly original script-done to a fare-thee-well by one of the most interesting casts in years (including Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Saul Rubinek, and Bronson Pinchot)-is a true original and a walking lesson in a peculiarly American dysfunction. When one character says he enjoys killing because he likes to watch the expression change on people’s faces, the notion is utterly appalling. With vicious irony, True Romance serves up a fast-food feast of the American dream, which, of course, also happens to be the American nightmare. That this is an entertainment is perhaps its most deeply unsettling aspect of all. A-

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