Review of 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'

once_upon_a_time_in_hollywood.jpg The latest block buster from Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is a masterclass of Trantino-ness.

It is 1969 Hollywood and the successful star of a western television series Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) feels as if he is a has-been. Dalton's friend and former stunt double the cool Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) drives Dalton around and takes care of him in his Hollywood house next door to the famous director of Rosemary's Baby (Rafal Zawierucha) and his wife, rising star Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). While Dalton works on his lines as a baddie in another western Booth meets a young girl hippie, Pussycat (Margaret Qualley), who takes them to a ranch formerly used for filming but is now occupied by the hippies who offer horse-back trips to tourists. The ranch visit does not go well with Dalton leaving quite quickly…

This is a slice of life in the late 60s of a neurotic star from the previous decades attempting to cope with the reality of the new Hollywood regime. It is not a film where a lot happens and indeed we are often treated to long periods of driving in the big cars of the era where nothing is said at all – This is a film of atmosphere as much as it is a film about people. Pitt is incredibly laid back as the easy-going ex-stuntman humouring his friend. Dalton is a bundle of nerves and neurosis as he takes advice from industry friends and attempts to make it in an industry that seems to have passed him by.

As with other Tarantino films there are other stories and vignettes throughout the film that add flavour and texture including where Sharon Tate visits a cinema showing one of her films (“It is me” she explains to the ticket booth attendant) to enjoy the film herself and revel in the audience's appreciative reaction. Another scene features Polanski visiting a party at the Playboy mansion…

The film never entirely takes itself seriously with a number of no doubt insider jokes for the industry. The style is very much Tarantino - Slick, chilled, very cool and subtle until, of course, all hell breaks lose at pretty much the drop of a hat - Blood splattering across the screen that only recently featured loving pictures of the characters cruising the streets of LA. I have to say I did find these scenes particularly upsetting though I admit this may have been the film-makers intention as they are shocking with deeply personal and visceral.

A bit long at almost three hours, fans of Tarantino might find “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” a bit lacking in terms of action but it certainly has a great deal of style and excellent performances from it's cast. Some may find it boring but stick with it, this is compelling stuff from a master director.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-09-15

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Studio: Bona Film Group

Year: 2019

Length: 161 minutes

Genre: Melodrama

Other reviewed films by Quentin Tarantino: