There are certain movies that upon their release into theaters are thought of as cultural events, a result of either the content being released, or the storyteller releasing it. Quentin Tarantino is one such auteur, creating a buzz with each movie he puts out into the world. His films often prove divisive, with people praising his ability to push the boundaries of how movies are made, along with others who criticize his use of overloaded violence and profanity. The latest addition to the Tarantino gallery is a different beast, as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a quieter story that succeeds in taking the viewer through days in the life of some interesting characters during Los Angeles in 1969.
The story revolves around Rick Dalton(Leonardo DiCaprio), a small time actor and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), his stuntman. The audience gets a peak into the lives of these friends, along with Rick’s neighbor, Sharon Tate(Margot Robbie). If this doesn’t sound like much a of storyline it’s because there isn’t much of a story. Instead Dalton, Booth, and Tate lead the viewers through intersecting stories as they go about their daily endeavors.
The biggest strength of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
is the acting, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are both on full display delivering excellent performances. DiCaprio
creates a layered character unlike anyone he’s played before. The detail he brings to his portrayal creates a memorable performance that will certainly garner awards consideration this Oscar
season. Pitt is the sidekick in this story, but still has plenty of time to shine. He steals the movie with a charming yet subdued performance and highlights some of the best moments of the film.
While the film revolves mainly around DiCaprio and Pitt, the supporting players in orbit certainly are successful in their own capacities. Margot Robbie delivers a solid portrayal of
Sharon Tate, capturing the subtleties of the person and not just the major events that defined her. Other entertaining appearances include Mike Moh as Bruce Lee, along with Margaret Qualley
and Dakota Fanning as members of the Manson Family. Another highlight of the film that must be pointed out is the attention to detail that Tarantino used to recreate late 1960s LA. It was an
impressive feat, that along with a great soundtrack successfully pulls the viewer into the time period.
Like most of Tarantino’s films, length and violence can be issues at times. With a runtime of 2 hours and 41 minutes, the story is a long one that drags at times and may have benefitted from more editing. Violence is less prevalent in this film, but there are scenes that fall on the gory side. These factors will result in the film not being for everybody, but what Tarantino movie is? Overall, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is an entertaining day in the life styled period piece that provides colorful characters and engages from beginning to end. I give it 3.5 out of 5 Stars and recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of Tarantino, 60s LA, or the actors involved.