With the release of every new Quentin Tarantino fims there comes the same old gender discussion. Is he a massive sexist who refuses to give women ay real place in his films? This time it all kicked off when people started complaining about Margot Robbie being given so few lines in Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. Does Robbie get short shrift? Yeah. But it’s not as if the film was even from Sharon Tate’s perspective anyway. It was a film about a male friendship that skirted around the star’s tragic death. It wasn’t supposed to explore Tate’s life but give an image of her as a person. It was a fairy tale where she was the kind, sweet, and promising young woman who didn’t deserve to have her life taken from her so brutally. Robbie and Tarantino manage to prove who Tate was without words. I’m not here to say whether Tarantino’s treatment of women is positive or negative but, in this case, it seems like a needless argument. Besides, since when is the only indication of a strong female character the number of lines they speak? As someone who has trouble speaking up at times, I’d say silence isn’t necessarily an indication of weakness.
To go along with the new outrage, Time magazine published a list of the percentage of lines spoken by a woman in each of Tarantino’s films. They discovered that only two films tipped the balance in favour of the women: Death Proof and Kill Bill Vol. 1. But Kill Bill Vol. 2 had men ahead with 58.8% of the lines. Is there something a bit dodgy about a film with one of his strongest female characters doesn’t have a more vocal female presence? Maybe. But are we in any doubt that Kill Bill as a whole completely empowered women? Well, we shouldn’t be. Uma Thurman’s role as the Bride is iconic. As soon as the two films appeared on Netflix, I knew it was time to rewatch them. And this was the perfect excuse.
Should we consider Kill Bill as one or two films? Who knows. Who cares. We should just consider Kill Bill. Even after all this time, it remains one of Tarantino’s most fun and stylish revenge thriller. Is it the deepest story you’ll ever hear? Probably not but, in terms of amazing action, it has it all. This is an over-the-top and brazen celebration of film. It is both a pastiche of the martial arts genre and a love letter to it. It never takes itself too seriously but it seriously loves the films is takes notes from. It is completely Tarantino and it only works because of that fact.
This is the director at his best and most braggy. He’s showing off every second of the film and it utterly works in his favour. You forget how basic the story is and how cliched everything is. You just want to follow the Bride on her bloody revenge narrative. The man knows how to put a film together and he knows how to deal with high concept violence. He is so enthusiastic about telling this story in a way that honour the films he loves and it’s impossible not to get caught up in it. You ignore the messy and uneven foundations thanks to its deep-seated integrity.
This is a classic Tarantino film. A bunch of talented actors, a cinephile director, a fairly pedestrian story, and fuck loads of fake blood. It’s an adolescent and silly film but it does what it wants to do. It gets better as it goes along and volume 2 adds a much needed emotional angle the first missed. Tarantino has only ever done things his way. It doesn’t always work but Kill Bill is a special thing. I shouldn’t wait so long to watch it again next time.