Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Mikey Madison, Timothy Olyphant, Jula Butters, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Damon Herriman, Lena Dunham, Spencer Garrett.

In early 1969 LA, ageing and fading television star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), whose popular TV show was recently cancelled has been stuck doing guest appearances as the ‘bad guy’ of the episode. Given an opportunity to make some ‘spaghetti western’ movies in Italy, he wonders if it is the right decision. His best friend and former stuntman Cliff Booth (Pitt), is his sounding board, and offers advice where he can.

Robbie plays real life Sharon Tate. However this is another of Tarantino’s ‘alternate history’ movies. The Charles Manson plot-line is a secondary story, and is in the ‘background’. The Spahn Ranch moment within the film, I truly worried about one of the characters safety, and if they will or won’t make it out of the situation.

Reportedly this is Tarantino’s favourite film he has made. I can see that there is strong argument that this might just be his most challenging work to date. There are so many cutaways to Rick’s career, that under the banner of one film, all directed by QT, would have been challenging to make. But, to me this is not his best work. The entire story is fine, but I did not love this like I love some of his other works.

The setting screams 1969, and there is little find fault in this aspect. Not being of that time, so this is only an assumption, but I did find some of the characteristics of some of the characters a little too modern and progressive for the time.

The acting is mostly solid, and all the leads do give it a great go. Robbie is underused completely and her version of Tate could have been fleshed out so much more. Pitt, who won his first acting Oscar for his role, is fine, but he has done such better work in the past and even after this. I felt his Oscar was possibly just a token award for a ‘supporting’ actor in a QT film, and to Pitt himself for his complete body of work. There is some ‘questionable’ acting from some cast as well, that feels below average, especially for the high standards that QT has.

DiCaprio is on point however as not quite a life imitating art kind of role, as his star has not faded. Here he plays an actor who is getting older and whose career has not reached the limits he thought it would.

There is also some irritating exposition in certain places, and there is some unnecessary QT usual narration within the latter part of the movie from Russell, who has an on screen appearance earlier on. At a typical runtime from a QT film of a little over 2.5hrs, to me it felt like it was too long, and could have done with some editing.

The soundtrack is brilliant, and encapsulates the era of the late 1960’s.

While I liked this film, I didn’t love it, and it is not Tarantino’s best work.

3.5/5

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