Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review. In this film, you will see Leonardo DiCaprio & Brad Pitt in action. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is many Splendored things. Quentin Tarantino’s 9th film is a portrait of the classic age of Hollywood movies and the people who made them. It’s also a showcase for outsized, old-school stardom, with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio delivering terrific performances.
I first saw the film at the Cannes Film Festival and then again this week. As the title ‘Once Upon A Time ‘ suggests, this is a fairy tale. On August 9th, 1969, actress Sharon Tate, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant at the time, and a group of her friends, were brutally murdered in Tate’s home by cult leader Charles
Tate’s husband, the celebrated director Roman Polanski, was abroad on the shoot. The multiple murders sent shock waves through Hollywood and are widely seen as the end of an era. This is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood climaxes with the night of the murders.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Review:
The film is constructed as three days in the lives of the principal characters. But the film isn’t centered on Tate or even Manson and his makeshift family of mostly young girls. The focus is on Tate’s neighbor Rick Dalton, a fading actor who’s clinging to his fame. And Rick’s stunt double Cliff Booth, who is described as‘more than a brother, less than a wife.
’Rick was once the star actor on a television series called Bounty Law but now he’s mostly doing guest roles as the villain. When an agent, played with delicious glee by Al Pacino, warns him that audiences are going to stop rooting for him, Rick is reduced to tears.
So Cliff loans him his sunglasses because people, especially the Mexican car park attendants, shouldn’t see Rick Dalton cry. He lives in a trailer with a ferocious dog named Brandy. Cliff seems unafraid of what life might throw at him.
We’re told that he may or may not have killed his wife. In one scene, he takes his shirt off and we see scars. We can sense that Cliff is capable of serious violence, but Brad Pitt plays him with this languid ease and industrial-strength charm.
Leonardo Dicaprio & Brad Pitt
Cliff and Rick’s bromance is the heart of the film. Even when the narrative becomes inert, their chemistry sustains entire scenes. DiCaprio is wonderfully free of vanity– there this tragi-comic scene in which Rick chats with a child actor during a lunch break. Her dedication and his own inadequacy reduce him to tears.
As I watched, I wondered: would any Bollywood star have agreed to do Rick’s role? Incidentally, Julia Butters who plays the child actor is flat-out terrific. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood languorously, over two hours and forty-one minutes, immerses us into a distinct place and time.
Tarantino fills the screen with references – some real like TV Guide magazine, which used to be a Bible, and others fiction. But this isn’t a film propelled by dramatic tension. A sequence in which Cliff lands up at a ranch where the Manson family lives is genuinely unsettling, but there are enough stretches in which the narrative sags because people are.
If you don’t get all the innumerable pop culture references, the spell isn’t as magical and emotionally, the film quite doesn’t connect. The character of Tate especially feels underused – she’s more like an idea than a person. The film ends with a burst of violence that’s almost cartoonish.
Like in Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, Tarantino is once again, tweaking history. But you need to know that history to get what the director is trying to do here. My suggestion is to do a little homework before you see the film – read up on what happened. And go in ready to be transported to late 60s Hollywood.
The film is a revisionist fairy tale and a time machine. One more suggestion – prepare to willfully ignore the warnings about smoking and psychotropic drugs.
A lot of characters are smoking so those warnings are practically in every frame and they really mess with your movie experience.