“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino. Released on July 26, 2019, the film has a television actor and his stunt double attempting to make themselves known in the film industry.
The film is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who also directed films such as “Reservoir Dogs”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Kill Bill”, “Django Unchained”, and “The Hateful Eight”. There were a lot of stuff that happened in Hollywood during the 1960s. Stuff that I can’t even describe without making this paragraph as long as the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Luckily, we have someone who can describe those events onscreen. For more than 25 years, Quentin Tarantino has been directing masterpiece after masterpiece with his unique ability to provide captivating stories and shower us with bloody violence. Sure, he has his share of controversies during his career, but those things didn’t stop him from being one of the most accomplished filmmakers in Hollywood history. This year, he’s stepping away from the Western genre and heading forward in time to the place where dreams are born, Hollywood. This is another film that I was really looking forward to this month because I was really impressed with his last two films, “Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight”, so I was interested in seeing what he can do with a concept like this. Another reason is that I enjoy stuff that involves movies. The film already made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival back in May, and it is already receiving praise from critics who got a chance to experience it for themselves. So, it looks like that Tarantino has another hit on his hands. Now that it’s made its way to the public, is it as good as they say it was?
The main plot of the film is inspired by the actual people and events that took place during the late 1960s, such as the relationship between Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt), which is based on Burt Reynolds’ relationship with his stunt double, and the Manson Family murders. Much like Tarantino’s other films, “Hollywood” has its share of foul language, sex, and of course, violence, so you might want to leave your kids at home for this one. This is the type of film that focuses less on the usual narrative structure and more on the exploration of the characters and the situations that they face during a certain time period. It’s a film about what life is like in Hollywood during the end of its golden age and how the main characters are adjusting to it. For people who prefer films with actual narrative structures, this could be a big turn-off. For those who are into Tarantino’s absurd, yet unique, style, it’s a passionate and engaging tribute to the filmmaking business in the 60s. Tarantino has crafted a glorified project that tones down its excessive violence in favor of its unusual blend of comedy and drama. One of the main highlights of the film was the outstanding cast, particularly DiCaprio and Pitt as Rick and Cliff, respectively. These two actors made the film shine for me because of the believable chemistry between the two and their abilities to personify their characters as real people even though everything is all fictionalized. Margot Robbie was also terrific as Sharon Tate, an actress who moved into Dalton’s neighborhood. Tate’s role in the film wasn’t nearly as interesting as Dalton’s despite playing an important part in the horrific event that happened at the end of the film. Another main highlight was the production design. Everything about it just screams “1960s Hollywood” from its accurate set designs to the stunning costumes. If you’re someone who grew up in this time period, you’ll find it to be a remarkable trip down memory lane. As I mentioned before, Tarantino has a vision that’s weird, honest, and well-crafted. He understood the qualities that made this time period what it was and put his own spin on them in terms of his witty screenplay, resulting in something that only a Tarantino film can offer, and I got to say, I enjoyed the heck out of what he delivered. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect masterpiece. The only issue that I had with the film was its pacing. The film is approximately two hours and 40 minutes long (the usual running time for a Tarantino film), which means there are plenty of scenes that are unnecessary drawn-out. They’re good for bathroom breaks, but they’re also pain-inducing for people who want the film to hurry up and move on to the next scene. Tarantino tends to get a bit lost throughout his narrative from time to time, mostly due to him spending too much time on Dalton and his role in the Western show Lancer. The pacing didn’t bother me that much since Tarantino has a way of making his drawn-out scenes appealing, but I can easily understand that it might bore a few audience members who don’t like overlong movies.
Overall, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” not only painted a beautiful portrait of Hollywood in the 1960s, but also provided a skillfully gleeful experience that showcases Tarantino’s love for filmmaking. It’s not a perfect film due to its inconsistent pacing and its running time, but the talented filmmaker made up for these mistakes by representing an irresistible cast, the film’s production design, and his sharp screenplay. If this is really Tarantino’s last film, I would say that this is the best way to send him off on a high note. If you’re a fan of Tarantino’s other works and the film industry in general, it’s definitely worth checking out.