So let’s get this out of the way: The ninth film by Quentin Tarantino.
Ok so now that’s done, here is the new film from the only director who needs to number his films. Starring Brad Pitt (Fight Club), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wallstreet) this is the story of the decline of the old Hollywood system and the rise of the more cynical indie/hippie era.
DiCaprio plays TV actor Rick Dalton who is starting to realise that his days as a TV star are numbered. Rick is looked after by his stunt double friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) and the film is basically hanging out with these characters for three hours.
There is no doubt that this movie is too long. Tarantino has always been a master of individual set piece scenes, usually involving characters just talking, but has never been able to control himself to edit down to the essentials. Here there are many moments that simply don’t need to be in film. Having said that, there is very little in the way of a narrative anyway. It’s basically hanging out with some characters in this end to the golden era of Hollywood.
It has all the usual Tarantino hallmarks such as great dialogue, awesome soundtrack, time shifts, great comedy and extreme violence. I have to say that both Pitt and DeCaprio are on career highs and it is certainly entertaining spending time with these characters. Margot Robbie has a relatively small but important part as Sharon Tate. The inclusion of the Manson Family in this was a constant creeping shadow over the film as we know what happened to Tate at their hands. This doubles as a metaphor of the changing nature of Hollywood.
Which brings me to the ending. I won’t give away spoilers only to say that the title of the movie is important and the events are not as you might expect.
Overall, I enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood due to the great individual scenes and superb acting. However, its just too long and self indulgent. There is a moment with Bruce Lee which has caused controversy. I can see why but it depends on the reason you think Tarantino included it. I think it serves a purpose and is undeniably funny. Not all will agree it is in good taste.
Rating – 7.5/10 – Great performances and superb recreation of the time. Too long and the ending will divide audiences.