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Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman)
Before we even see her, Mia Wallace is the most talked about character in the film.
We know she's the big man's new wife, a "don't touch" person if there ever was one. But she's also beautiful and bored. So when Jules, and later the bartender, learn that Vincent has to "take her out" and "show her a good time," they think it's hilarious. She's the most dangerous character in the movie.
Vincent needs to get high on heroin in order to go through with it.
From the moment we see her, Mia's clothes speak wonders. She's wearing a long white shirt and black cropped pants—no frills, no colors (except those bright red lips). We'd call it a power outfit, you know? It's not unlike the suits that Jules and Vincent wear, telling us that Mia can stand up to the toughest of them. As Marcellus' wife, she is powerful.
As one critic put it, "She's the most powerful woman in a male-dominated world—she can get a terrifying assassin to dance the twist at her command" (source). The outfit exudes confidence and strength, both of which she's got plenty of. She seems totally in control of Vincent. She holds her own.
Mia is gorgeous and sexy and seductive and funny and…a coke addict.
Did we mention seductive? She's coming on to Vincent from the get-go. He arrives at Marsellus' house to find this note: "Hi, Vincent. I'm getting dressed. The door's open. Come inside and make yourself a drink." "Son of a Preacher Man" is playing on the stereo. Sample lyric: "Bein' good isn't always easy / no matter how hard I try."
We see Mia watching Vincent on the security cameras and get a close-up of her red lips as she purrs to him on the intercom mike.
And then…she does a few lines of coke.
Vincent's there to make her happy, and what makes her happy is agreeing to take her to her favorite '50s-retro burger joint. At the restaurant, she provocatively sucks on her milkshake and stares into Vincent's eyes. She gets a little pulp fiction-y on him:
MIA: What are you doing?
VINCENT: Rollin' a smoke.
VINCENT: It's just tobacco.
MIA: Oh. Well in that case, will you roll me one, cowboy?
Vincent gets up the nerve to ask her about the foot massage/defenestration incident. She seems surprised to hear what people think; she denies everything.
MIA: You heard Marsellus threw Rocky Horror out of a four-story window because he massaged my feet?
MIA: And you believed that?
VINCENT: At the time I was told, it seemed reasonable.
MIA: Marsellus throwing Tony out of a four story window for giving me a foot massage seemed reasonable? […] A man being protective of his wife is one thing. A husband almost killing another man for touching his wife's feet is something else.
There's another thing that would make Mia happy:
MIA: I wanna dance.
VINCENT: No, no, no no, no, no, no, no.
MIA: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I do believe Marsellus, my husband, your boss, told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted, Now, I want to dance. I want to win. I want that trophy.
If you were starting to suspect that Mia is rather…uninhibited, the dance contest will confirm that. Mia pulls Vincent to the dance floor for a twist contest, in a scene that's gone down in cinematic history.
Once Mia and Vincent realize they're able to talk honestly, she drops the femme fatale act to some extent and becomes a little sillier and more authentic. Was she putting on a seduction act just to toy with Vincent? To test his loyalty to Marsellus? We never get to know because Vincent gets killed the following day.
After leaving the restaurant, Vincent takes Mia home—and of course she asks him in. They tango into the house.
While he's in the bathroom trying to summon up some self-control, Mia finds his baggie of heroin and snorts it, thinking it's cocaine. Vincent comes out of the bathroom to find her unconscious, bleeding through her nose and foaming at the mouth.
In case you didn't pick up on it…this is bad. Like…real bad. Vincent rushes Mia over to his drug dealer Lance's house, where Lance and his wife freak out at the thought of somebody ODing in their house. It's total chaos and hysteria. Meanwhile, Mia's dying and Lance coaches Vince through an adrenaline shot to Mia's heart. She bolts upright, needle still sticking out of her chest.
LANCE: If you're okay, say something.
At least she hasn't lost her sense of humor.
Mia and Vince agree that it's best for both of them if Marsellus never hears about this incident.
Tarantino thought that Mia Wallace was the character the audience would be most fascinated by. Maybe that's why he left her so mysterious. We know nothing about her backstory, her relationship with Marsellus, or her motivations. Is she a flirty, naïve party girl who tells silly jokes and can't tell the difference between heroin and coke? A sophisticated woman who plays with Vincent just to test his loyalty to Marsellus?
Mia was the image for the movie poster even though she's only a part of a single story. Why? Well, it's pulp fiction, and sex sells.
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