“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is a sluggish, yet deliberate look-see into Hollywood 1969.
First and foremost: I’d like to start by congratulating Quentin Tarantino on his career’s biggest opening, dethroning his Inglorious Basterds best from 2009.
Like many of Tarantino’s works, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is a feast for the eyes. The year is 1969 and the level of immersion Tarantino presents to us is brilliantly done. Everything from famous Los Angeles landmarks to the tiniest details in the cabinets of the characters’ kitchens is next level. The attention to detail is almost Disney-level. The acting ability is stellar and everyone behind those cameras and computer screens deserves all the praise because it is genuinely a great piece of film.
The movie packs a ton of star power. But the real star of this movie has to be Leonardo DiCaprio. His ability to mold himself into his characters is masterful. If you figure out where his accent is supposed to be from please let me know. He really delved into his character and became Rick Dalton. Brad Pitt’s role had me on edge at all times. He’s a stuntman so you can put the two together. While her role was small and understated, Margot Robbie was exquisite as Sharon Tate. I think Margot Robbie really favors Sharon Tate and was perfect for the part. While most other roles were just as small as Robbie’s they were just as important and well-cast. The stand-out from the ensemble, for me, was Austin Butler. While he isn’t new to the Hollywood-scene (far from it actually) I think this role sealed his ability to play serious roles. I can’t wait to see him take on Elvis Presley in his biopic. I’d also like to point out that the young but audacious Julia Butters does a phenomenal job in her role (I really appreciated a certain nod to a certain favorite of mine). Last but certainly not least it was bittersweet to see Luke Perry in his role. His role wasn’t much but it was just enough for us to say goodbye to his talent.
While the movie started with a bit of a lag it quickly starts to pick up the pace. I can’t say much without giving away spoilers but the ending was nothing short of wild. Yes, the movie was directed by Tarantino but it did not feel very Tarantino-esque. It lacked the surfeit of blood and gore that he normally delivers but that’s not to say I’m complaining that it’s toned down. I love his ambition and his decisions to sort of alter history. But I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that I was expecting more from Margot Robbie and her character. I like that the movie wasn’t engulfed by the Manson family narrative and that we got tidbits here and there that all added up in the end.
The costuming is very on-brand and complementary to the story’s setting. The one black and white number that Robbie wears is to die for. The showstoppers for me though are the outfits that DiCaprio and Pitt grace us with.
Segueing into the cinematography and editing of the film, I can say I was stunned! But that’s a given with any Tarantino flick. Two things I’ll have to say that I didn’t appreciate were the numerous (and dirty) (?!) feet shots and close-ups of everyone’s faces. Given that these are some of his calling cards I’ll give them a pass. The cinematography of the city is gorgeous! The editing is a bit hit or miss. I saw some scenes that seemed a bit chopped up but name any movie that has zero issues with choppiness and continuity.
Having only seen this movie once and at 9:15 in the evening after a ten-hour shift I feel like there is much more that I’m going to be able to soak in for my next viewing. I can’t wait to give it another watch and dissect and process what I didn’t the first time.
If you’re a Tarantino fan then I urge you to watch his ninth film. While it’s not his best work, it truly is a great piece of art that deserves to be viewed on the big screen.