Tarantino’s ninth film is astonishing, exploring ’60’s America in Hollywood and various peoples lives.
If you could travel back in time to any era, what and where would you choose? For many, it’s possibly ’60’s America. Think about it… Woodstock, Martin Luther King’s iconic speech, the assassination of JFK, Beatlemania, etc. It was certainly an iconic period of time.
’60’s America literally had anything you could want from a decade. It’s truly a shame there isn’t a time machine to explore this period further. Well Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, certainly makes you feel like you could be a part of that time.
Set in 1969, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood follows the lives of TV actor, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his best friend, chauffeur and long-term stunt-double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they navigate their way through show-business, coming to terms with the life-span of their respective careers through an ever-changing Hollywood landscape.
Oh yeah, and all this drama takes place at the time of the Manson murders. Vintage QT, right?
Tucked away in the Hollywood Hills, Dalton’s next-door neighbours, Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) represent everything he isn’t; big-time players in a city and in an industry that treats movie stars as gods. As Dalton keeps on striving to finally reach that tier, with various guest TV roles and landing the role of the villain in a Sam Wanamaker movie, it’s painfully obvious that Tate has got there ahead of him.
Before the plot is explored any further, it’s important to state that Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood is potentially one of Tarantino’s greatest films, if not the greatest of all. On the surface of it that sounds like a bold claim, but listen further.
It’s rare to see a film that being over 161 minutes long actually leaves you wanting more. Honestly, if the film was another 120 minutes, viewers could still remain hooked.
Tarantino has delivered a masterpiece in storytelling; beautifully showing us a story of friendship, ambition, and heartbreak – whilst paying homage to the craft of filmmaking.
One of the things that is great about this movie is how Tarantino doesn’t overdo the tragedy of Tate murders, and actually, if you badly timed a trip to the toilet, you wouldn’t even know Charles Manson had been acknowledged. Tarantino has ensured that this isn’t his story. It’s Rick, Cliff and Sharon’s, all pursuing their American dreams as they live in Hollywood – and their stories are told beautifully.
That’s not to say that the Manson ‘Family’ aren’t involved though, they really are, and the sequence in the George Spahn ranch with Cliff and Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) is intense and brilliantly staged. A real sense of how Manson’s followers felt about the outside world is created, and how devoted they were to their unusual way of life. It’s a very eerie sequence, but one you cannot take your eyes off.
Starring in that sequence is Brad Pitt, who to many, outshines every other cast member in the film with his performance as Cliff. There are so many questions to ponder about this character, the whole film just leaves you wanting to know more and more about him.
Margot Robbie’s performance as Sharon Tate encapsulates Tate’s fun, bubbly and innocent persona brilliantly and is wonderfully uplifting and melancholic in equal measure, leaving you with a smile on your face whenever she’s on screen.
Similarly Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Rick Dalton will leave you in hysterics, but you’d also be forgiven for feeling sorry for a character who quite clearly does not belong in the new Hollywood; harbouring hate towards the Hippie movement and just not showing, or understanding, the dedication towards acting that the hungrier and younger actors clearly have.
There are also some very enjoyable performances from the Manson ‘family’, including; Maragret Qualley as Pussycat, Austin Butler as Tex Watson and Dakota Fanning as Squeaky. Mike Moh also deserves a big mention for his brilliant portrayal as Bruce Lee, in a sequence in which we see Lee take on Cliff on the set of The Green Hornet.
It’s rare to see a film live up to the hype that surrounds it. When Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood premiered at Cannes earlier this year, some critics boldly claimed that it was Tarantino’s best film since Pulp Fiction. Having watched it, it’s evident why. This film is a love-letter to LA, a beautiful homage to filmmaking and undoubtedly, one of Tarantino’s best.
There are so many things that make Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood special, you really won’t see a more astonishing film this year. You’ll smile at the way ’60’s Hollywood has been brought back to life, you’ll love the soundtrack, you’ll admire the precision in the storytelling and you’ll rejoice at the sheer madness of the end.
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood is being released by Sony Pictures in UK cinemas on August 14th.