Pulp Fiction is a film of doubtless quality – it’s certainly among my favourites – but it has limited ambitions. Those ambitions are fulfilled perfectly; this is an intricately planned and beautifully made entertainment.
Many at the time criticised this. The violence should have more context, it was said. The vacuous, hedonistic life of the protagonists should be shown to have negative consequences. They missed the point, I think: this is entertainment.
But it’s not a film you’ll walk away from with any abiding questions. You’ll marvel at the plot, revel in the supremely quotable script, copy the style, wonder at the characterisations; but you won’t be asking yourself about the world-wide political crisis caused by the end of the Cold War, the end of apartheid, war in Yugoslavia, the Rwandan genocide, or any other contemporaneous events.
Why should you? This is entertainment.
It isn’t always that way though. Landmark films of previous decades did manage to entwine entertainment with relevance: Taxi Driver, Casablanca, The Public Enemy…
Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies