[P]acking your bags and leaving the daily grind behind to embark on a journey of self-discovery with nothing but a convertible, a pack of cigarettes and the clothes on your back has an endlessly romantic appeal. And, like most things with endlessly romantic appeal, that sense of escape and adventure has been captured in hundreds of films that follow a road trip narrative. The characters in road movies are usually outcasts, delinquents and misfits with a complete disregard for mainstream society and fiercely individual style. We’ve lined up some of our favourite road movie partners in crime.
Mickey and Mallory Knox – natural Born Killers
The fiendish and bloodthirsty Mickey and Mallory Knox are the most derailed killers on the run in any road movie. Rather than acting in self-defence or for monetary gains, Mickey and Mallory kill for thrills. The couple’s matching snake rings and multiple tattoos are both symbols of their bond and marks of their outsider status. Mickey wears round tinted glasses and Mallory disguises herself with multiple wig changes. Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as Mickey and Mallory, the film is a satirical representation of the way the media portrays serial killers, as we’ve already discussed in detail here.
Lula and Sailor – Wild At heart
David Lynch’s crime thriller follows Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicholas Cage) who decide to skip town and head to California, breaking Sailor’s parole. Sailor and Lula are pursued a detective and a dangerous gang of hit men hired by Lula’s deranged mother to kill Sailor. Sailor wears a trophy snakeskin jacket in almost every scene as a “symbol of his individuality” and “his belief in personal freedom.” The film has a transformative treatment of the ordinary, teeming with Lynchian style dream sequences in which the characters are consumed by bizarre visions.
Kit and Holly – Badlands
A classic love story where boy meets girl and then boy kills girl’s dad. Fifteen-year-old impressionable Holly falls for the greaser bad boy who wears cowboy boots and double denim and looks like James Dean. The two of them fake their own deaths and then hit the road on a killing spree across the South Dakota Badlands. The film score inspired the soundtrack for True Romance.
Amy Blue and Jordan White – The Doom Generation
Gregg Araki’s dark comedy chronicles the exploits of two teenage misfits Amy Blue and Jordan White on the run from the law after they become accessories to a homicide at a 7/11. Amy Blue wears a uniform of Doc Martens, a skimpy black dress, an oversized leather bomber and red lipstick, the ideal accessories to her rebellious, nihilistic attitude. Her various biting lines in the film such as, “You’re like a life support system for a cock!” And, “eat my fuck”, should be added to your personal stockpile of insults.
Bonnie and Clyde – Bonnie and Clyde
The OG road movie couple, Bonnie and Clyde were real life gang members that travelled through central United States robbing banks and murdering anyone in their way. Arthur Penn’s autobiographical film named after the couple immortalised them in film and cemented their legacy in American pop culture. Bonnie and Clyde were always smartly dressed, Clyde wore a grey two-piece suit and a trilby while Bonnie wore a pencil skirt, neck scarf and beret. The film’s release in 1967 made it one of the most graphically violent and sexual films of its time. Bonnie and Clyde paved the way for the road movie’s intertwining of sex and violence.
Clarence and Alabama – True Romance
Clarence and Alabama of True Romance go down in history as the coolest road movie couple to grace the genre. Directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance is riddled with Tarantino tropes of blood splashing violence and off kilter dialogue. Alabama, an ex hooker played by Patricia Arquette wears eighties style metallic leopard print leggings and Bardot tops. Her trashy style is injected with sexuality, best evoked in the scene where she wears a cow print skirt hiked up around her waist by Clarence, played by Christian Slater when the couple hit it off in a phone box. Clarence’s Hawaiian shirts and gold sunglasses have become equally iconic. The film’s score by Hans Zimmer with a voice over by Arquette is an homage to Terrence Malik’s Badlands and closes the action with Arquette whispering dreamily “You’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool”, over and over again; pretty much summing up our thoughts on Clarence and Alabama.