Preface: When I first saw this film, I didn’t like it, but after seeing it the second time I have much more of an appreciation for it.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, is the 9th film by acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino, and is in a sense a retelling of the real-life Manson Murders; all bit it with a twist, but I’m not going to spoil that here. The film itself reads like a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood, as well as to the 1960s.
The plot of the film revolves around three intersecting stories, each focusing on one of the three main cast members, Brad Pitt,( Cliff Booth), Leonardo DiCaprio, (Rick Dalton), and Margot Robbie, (Sharon Tate). Rick’s story focuses on him realising he is past his peak in terms of acting and, needs to adapt his ways to stay relevant. Booth is mainly a supportive figure to Dalton, being there to lend a hand, although his story line does bring about the Manson Family element which adds an exciting spark to the film*.
*I believe knowing about the events of the Manson Murders before going in to see the film, adds a sense of dread to the proceedings, with you knowing it’s just a matter of time before the killings happen; if you don’t know the history the final act of the film can feel like it’s just come out of nowhere.
The third and final main character, Robbie’s Tate is by far the weakest as she is given the least to do, and I didn’t notice this the first time around, but nothing much to say as well; her amount of dialogue compared to Pitt’s and DiCaprio’s is none existent; she mainly exists to dance around to various 60’s tunes and go on drawn-out trips to the movies.
On the flip side of that, the writing and the dialogue for both Booth and Dalton is well done, both of their characters seem like people, they’re relatable and easy to root for. Moreover, one of the final scenes of the film shows the relationship between these two men, in such a perfect away, it’s incredibly effective.
My biggest complaint against the film is the pacing of it. A lot, and I mean 60% + of the scenes feel like they could have been edited down, a lot of them weren’t vital and just served to reinforce and retell us things about the characters we already knew. Adding to this complaint, we only actually see Charles Manson, for one scene; which is incredibly brief. I don’t know if they shot more scenes and they didn’t make it in, but it leaves said scenes feeling oddly out of place.
Overall there are things to like about this film; both leading men are charming, there are some excellent celebrity cameos, but it doesn’t hide the fact that this is one of Tarantino’s weaker efforts.
The man has a stellar catalogue, with the likes of Django Unchained and Inglorious Bastards, but this seems like a mismatch of different things and ideas that don’t come together.
To summaries, I loved 40% of the film, but the other 60% was just too long, too dragged out and, dare I say it too self indulgent.
Reviewed by Luke