Love drugs death

The artist celebrating Tarantino’s ultimate cult youth romance
By Tempe Nakiska | Fashion | 6 July 2016

Still, True Romance 1993 © Morgan Creek Productions

If you’re not well acquainted with the work of cult film maestro Quentin Tarantino, True Romance is a good place to start. The Tony Scott directed, Tarantino-penned 1993 tale of love, drugs and death on the American highway was a flop at the box office, but (like so many cult classics) has risen to status as one of Tarantino’s most iconic moments, inspiring many creatives since with its fucked up take on the American dream.

New York based artist Grear Patterson often looks to pop culture for his creative output. Tarantino’s pulp love story is his latest point of departure, and here he selects his ultimate moments from True Romance.


Patterson’s new exhibition at Marlborough Contemporary explores notions of romanticised movie endings, youthful recklessness and possibility, odyssey, hedonism and adventure. Using found materials like wedding tablecloths, vinyl, parachutes and boat sails Patterson has constructed epic scale sunsets remniscient of the one the movie’s Clarence and Alabama drive into, Mexico bound.

Reacquaint yourself with the film below, or if you’re yet to dip into this classic proceed with caution: serious plot spoilers ahead.

Grear Patterson's favourite True Romance moments

1. When Alabama says she had to come all the way to motor city Detroit to find true love 

“The film opens with the soft, Tallahassee drawl of Alabama Whitman, a call girl who “never thought Detroit and romance would go together.” You can instantly fall in love with her brutal honesty and emotional vulnerability,” says Patterson.

2. Alabama and Clarence have pie 

“”Do you like to have pie after seeing a good movie?” Alabama asks. This is an early scene, just after Alabama ‘accidentally’ bumps into Clarence at the movies. Leaning across the diner table, you can already feel their inseparable bond forming.”

3. When he shows her Spider Man #1

“Clarence takes Alabama back to his workplace – a comic book store in town – and shows her the first ever Spider Man comic. This moment expertly foreshadows the couple getting married, and Clarence is beginning to show his true colours about love.”

4. Court house wedding 

“”How are you Mrs Alabama Worley?” Clarence says to his new bride. Clutching a bouquet of gas station flowers and dressed in her trademark leopard print, Alabama embraces Clarence on the courthouse steps.”

5. When Elvis Presley tells Clarence he likes him in the mirror 

“”Clarence, I’ve always liked you. Always have, always will”. In the reflection of his bathroom mirror, Clarence seeks deadly advice from “the king of rock and roll” about killing Alabama’s ex pimp. Clarence is just enough “cowboy” and “wild man” to get confidence from fallen figures such as Elvis.”

Grear Patterson, ‘Manhattan Beach’ (2007). Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London

6. Phone booth sex

“On their escape route to LA, Alabama and Clarence stop off on the side of the highway to make a quick call, which soon leads to sex. It really shows that moment when you’re with someone and you just gotta have them; the rules of when and where just go out the window.”

7. Alabama is a survivor 

“In the movie both Clarence and Alabama kill for each other, in a bid to protect their loved one. Towards the end of the film, Clarence leaves Alabama to grab some cheeseburgers, when James Gandolfini’s Mafia character arrives at their hotel to get the stash of coke. Alone in the room with Gandolfini, Alabama is brave and fearless – in a quick witted response she attacks him with fire and shampoo.”

8. The theme song

“”You’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool.” Hans Zimmer’s renowned theme song, which plays throughout the movie, captures the blinded youthful fervour, and foreboding sense of odyssey and adventure, which the film is all about.

Grear Patterson, ‘True Romance’, runs to 23rd July at Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle St, London W1S 4BY

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