Film noir by definition is a classic genre characterized by visual elements such as tilted camera angles, skewed scene compositions, and most importantly the use of darkness (shadow) and light to show the complicated moral nature of the subject. Common motifs in this film genre include crime and punishment, the upheaval of traditional moral values, and a pessimistic stance on the meaning of life and on the place of humankind in the universe. Neo-noir is a genre that still was defined as such because they were produced after the classic noir era in the 1940’s and 1950’s (Mayer, 2013), these films display the same visual themes of the noir genre but their re-introduction and the directors’ individual interpretation of it have defined it as a concept of its own.
As is common in the films of Quentin Tarantino, the portrayal of the noir genre poses philosophical questions about human nature; guilt, redemption, knowledge, memory and identity. In the neo-noir world, the lines between the common binary oppositions such as right and wrong and good and evil are blurred; and despite the protagonist and the antagonist roles, both characters tend to be synonymous, they reflect each other’s weakest qualities; as is reflected in the film Pulp Fiction (1994). Films noir center in on an individual in a distorted and perverted universe, and like in most noirs, the antagonist struggles to achieve redemption throughout the film.
No matter how impeccably dressed Tarantino’s gangsters enter the film, the “cool/suave” look fades as they smear their suits with dirt, sweat and blood by the end of the film.