Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the 9th film from Quentin Tarantino and is his love letter to the golden age of Hollywood filmmaking. Very much like Inglorious Basterds, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a fictional story based in real-life events. 1969 Hollywood is the backdrop of Tarantino’s latest film, set around the time of the Manson murders. In fact, the Manson family along with a few of the real-life victims play a role in this movie, most predominantly Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate. I’ll just say it, I loved this movie. Tarantino has crafted a comedy akin to his magnificent Pulp Fiction and a movie that is really about nothing. The scenes are long and drawn out, but it didn’t bother me one bit because of Tarantino’s impeccable and unmatched dialogue being acted out by some of the best actors working today. This is a long movie, but I could have easily spent more time with our two leads.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are just amazing. Simply put, I could have just watched these two actors playing these characters all day long. The bromance between them is the best part of this movie. Their characters feel real and lived in. They sit down and have conversations while watching TV that is almost identical to how my friends and I watch movies together. Leo is captivating as Rick Dalton, an aging TV star trying to make it into the movies. This is a master at work. The little character choices he chooses to play the character with are so subtle and nuanced, and they change when Rick Dalton is now acting in a scene in a tv show he is filming in the movie. It’s incredible work that adds so much life and humanity to an otherwise selfish character. Brad Pitt steals every frame of the screen that he is in. Pitt plays Cliff Booth, Rick Dalton’s stunt double/driver/handyman/whatever Rick needs. Cliff Booth is one of the coolest and toughest characters put to screen. Pitt is calm, cool, and collected even when he is faced with very real and frightening situations. These two characters are some of my favourite I’ve seen all year.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is really a movie about nothing. Very much like Pulp Fiction, the story just kind of happens with no real goal for any of the characters. It also reminded me a lot of The Big Lebowski, in the end, everything that happens doesn’t really matter. Instead, this movie is set up of a collection of scenes written with some of the best and wittiest dialogue all year. But of course, that is to be expected. The movie does drag in areas that I could see some audience members getting bored in, but for me, the two lead performers paired with the script was more than enough to keep me entertained. Since this movie is about nothing, a few characters can be wasted. Mainly Sharon Tate played by Margot Robbie. I don’t know if this was a choice to have her not do much in the movie since she was a real-life person who was murdered by the Manson family or if the movie didn’t really need this character in the script. Either way, Margot Robbie doesn’t do much in this film. Robbie does have a natural energy to herself that makes the character pop more than an average actress would be able to do. I just don’t think that the Sharon Tate “story” had much to do in this movie other than setting the tone and the setting of a 1969 Hollywood.
As this film doesn’t have much of a plot, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood relies on it’s set pieces and singular scenes. Tarantino has perfectly captured Hollywood in 1969. All of the sets are real and look and feel exactly like the late ’60s. And of course, numerous stand-out scenes populate this film. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood perfectly captures 1969 and the golden age of Hollywood. The two lead actors, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, are infectious with their high energy performances and tailor-made sharp dialogue. Yes, this is a long movie, but I could have easily spent more time in 1969 Hollywood with these characters. And all that said without even mentioning the incredible and explosive ending that is worth every second of restraint this movie has built to that final climax. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one of Tarantino’s best, and a must-see.