This post has been written as part of The Film Experience's 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' series, which can be found at www.thefilmexperience.net.
I think there is a revisionist appreciation of Jackie Brown as of late. In the last six months or so I've heard or read many people saying it may be Quentin Tarantino's very best film and I'm glad about it. When I first saw Jackie Brown, when I was about fifteen years old, I didn't really think much of it compared to the flashier Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but the years have been kind to Jackie, and this latest re-watch of the film has only increased my love for it.
As Tarantino has gotten older and more stylistically intense with his movies, the relatively restrained attitude of Jackie Brown stands out among his filmography. This is Tarantino's only movie to have a love story at its center (I'm not counting True Romance since he didn't direct it. And you could make a case for Django, but I think the romantic element is the weakest part of that movie). The way the relationship between Jackie (Pam Grier) and Max Cherry (Robert Forster) develops throughout the film is the most soulful, earnest and sentimental thing I've seen Tarantino do. It helps that he has two terrific performances from Grier and Forster to portray the relationship. They are both terrific in the movie, but my very favorite thing about Jackie Brown has always been Robert Forster's performance.
He was rightly nominated for an Oscar back in 1997, and had I been a member of the Academy back then (not that I am now, mind you), I would have no doubt given him my vote. His Max Cherry sports a blend of world weariness and romantic teenage enthusiasm that makes him one of the best romantic interests of the 90s. Case in point, there are few moments in Jackie Brown that make me "feel" more than this shot when Max bails Jackie out of jail and sees her for the first time:
Just looking at that face makes me hear the Delfonics' "Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time" in my head. Speaking of which, how great is that scene in Jackie's apartment? Boy, do I love my Jackie and my Max. Hopefully, they'll end up being remembered as the great cinematic couple they really are. Just look at them in this other shot. They just met the night before, but just looking at the picture, you'd think they've been married for years. Is it just me, or does this shot tell you these two just belong together?