Mia’s Seduction of Vincent Vega
“Besides, it’s more exciting when you don’t have permission.” —Mia Wallace
“I mean I actually think that when it comes to the movie, of all the characters, to me,… the story I want to know the most about is Mia Wallace as far as a viewer is concerned,” says Quentin Tarantino, the writer and director of Pulp Fiction. From the beginning, Mia Wallace is a mystery to Vincent Vega as well as the audience. Because she is a mystery, Vincent and the audience have to strive to discover the true Mia. Mia seduces Vincent from the start of the night, but Vincent discovers it is just an act when Mia starts to legitimately have feelings for him. Mia transforms from a sexual creature to a fun-loving woman when the couple realizes they have a connection.
As Vincent Vega walks into the Wallace’s house, the song “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield is playing. Springfield’s voice is very soulful as she sings about how the preacher’s son seduces her:
Bein’ good isn’t always easy
No matter how hard I try
When he started sweet-talkin’ to me
He’d come and tell me everythings alright
He’d kiss and tell me everything is alright
Can I get away again tonight?
The song foreshadows Mia seducing Vincent and sets a sensual mood early in the night. The song is diegetic music because it is playing from Mia’s record player. Because it is diegetic, it reveals that Mia is a seductive character because she knowingly plays a song about seduction and forbidden romances.
A repetitive shot is a close up on Mia Wallace’s lips. Her bright red lipstick draws attention immediately to her lips. The color red is significant because it is a power color that also symbolizes passion and danger. Powerful, passionate, and aggressive are three adjectives that describe Mia and yet the audience cannot even see her face yet. Since Tarantino’s camera shot focuses on the lips, it creates a highly feminine sexuality about Mia which, like the song, hints at seduction.
In the original script, written by Quentin Tarantino, Vincent’s introduction to Mia is highly sexualized as Mia is suppose to be naked in her room.
Since he is a straight male, Vincent would instantly be attracted to a nude Mia. Already it seems like Mia is almost trying too hard to seduce Vincent, yet this is just a game for her. She does not know Vincent; he is merely her husband’s henchmen. Testing the trust and loyalty of one of husband’s men can be an exciting game, and it could possibly enhance Mia and Marsellus’s marriage, which is left a mystery the whole movie.
During dinner, the evolution of Mia and Vincent’s growing relationship is shown. The beginning of the night is about the couple learning about each other. Mia finds Vincent is an outgoing and unreserved guy. He asks to take a sip of her milkshake which is a personal request when asking someone whom he just met. Mia actually looks up at Vincent to see if he is serious on his request. Others would never ask her for any favors as she is a mob boss’s wife, allowing Mia to realized that Vincent does not care what others care about him.
After the shock passed, Mia continues her game of seduction by requesting that he use her straw.
Mia’s insistence that she can “handle kooties” is a very bold statement. She says it very seriously signaling to Vincent that she is a strong woman who can handle him. When he finally takes a sip through the straw, she looks very pleased with herself. She has the look that she has won and can control Vincent now. This side of Mia is similar to Marsellus as they both like to take control of the people and the situations around them.
As dinner continues, Mia uses her milkshake to seduce Vincent. The camera is switching between close ups of Vincent and close ups of Mia which allows the audience to see the reactions to one another but now them interacting. The contrasting shots emphasize Mia’s seductive actions by making them the sole focus of the screen. For instance, Mia sucks on her straw will staring at Vincent. While drinking a milkshake through a straw is a normal act, Mia’s intense eye contact creates a sexy image which is easily shown in the shot.
Mia then begins to suck on the cherry from her milkshake which is sexual symbol. The cherry is commonly used to refer to virginity, and while it is obvious Mia is not a virgin, the image she creates for Vincent is sex and corruption. This dialogue is important in this scene because Mia explains that comfortable silences mean “you know you found somebody special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute, and comfortably share silence.”
For Mia’s final provocative move, she sucks on her thumb. All three shots are similar because her gaze never falters from across the table. The only difference is that is the object she is playing with.
Vincent Vega’s face when Mia walks to the bathroom shows many emotions: annoyed, frustrated, awed, interested. He is aware that Mia is being overtly sexual and he is annoyed at himself for still wanting her when he knows she is playing with him. The camera is focused on Vincent’s stare, while everything in the background is not focused so it appears blurry. This shot emphasizes how Mia has captured his full attention. He knows she is trouble, but Vincent Vega is not afraid of trouble; he does not want to back down and let Mia control him. His determination to take back control prompts him to ask Mia if it was her fault Marsellus threw Tony Rocky Horror out of a window.
When Vincent asks a possible offensive question, Mia is immediately intrigued. The shot shows that the tables are now turned and Vincent now has Mia’s full attention instead of the other way around. Vincent has a little more control in their unannounced power struggle. Mia loves Vincent’s ruthlessness in directly asking if she was the reason Tony got thrown out of a window. Her shocked and interested face is a turning point on how Mia views Vincent. From this point on, Mia drops the overtly sexual behavior and becomes more herself. Now the true flirtation begins.
Mia shows trust in Vincent when she begins to let him have some power and control. When she makes him dance, she is opening herself up to him for the first time tonight. The couple’s chemistry prominently shown as they dance. Tarantino writes in the script:
They are unique but they share a similarity that lets them bond on the dance floor. When Mia gives Vincent a “come hither” look while dancing, she actually wants him to act on it. Her eyes are focused on him again as she moves around the dance floor.
Vincent and Mia share their first “moment.” As Vincent and Mia stare into each other’s eyes, he asks, “Was that an uncomfortable silence?” and Mia replies, “I don’t know what that was.” Mia is not yet willing to admit that they shared a comfortable silence because that means Vincent is somebody special. Mia’s body language shows that she is unsure of herself and the situation, yet here eyes are piercing and again focused on Vincent showing that she desires him and he is in control. This Mia is the antithesis of the overly confident seductress that Vincent first met.
Mia shows that her provocative nature is just a facade used to have control over men. When she trusts and feels comfortable, the true Mia Wallace appears. The strong and unique connection between her and Vincent reveals this, however their romance is abruptly ended as she over doses on drugs and Vincent is killed the next day. While their relationship is never developed, Mia as a character is less of a mystery to the audience.