A review of the new Tarantino movie “Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood”

Quentin Tarrantino’s ninth movie – while much lauded – is not my favourite (I think that would be “Kill Bill”), but it is classic material from the idiosyncratic director with all his usual quirks and playfulness that so delight us fans of his. A recurrent theme of his work is his wish to revisist and even rewrite history and here we are in Los Angeles in 1969 when in the real world members of the Charles Manson cult murdered actress Sharon Tate but in Tarantino’s reel world anything is possible.

We are introduced to television actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo di Caprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) and one of the many delights of the film is the brilliant acting by both, most especially di Caprio, in a wonderful portrayal of male friendship. Of course, both have worked with Tarantino before: di Caprio in “Django Unchained” and Pitt in “Inglourious Basterds”.

Only at the end do these characters meet the under-written Stone (Margot Robbie). The movie has righly been described as a homage to American television and cinema of the late 1960s and there are numerous allusions to actual screen works of the time or versions of them, most notably a TV series called “Bounty Law” which could be seen as representing “Rawhide”. Perhaps the best sequences of the film are Rick’s conversation with and then acting opposite a female child actor.

As so often with Tarantino’s work, this is a long film (161 minutes) and, for much of it, a slow (at times too languid) build-up of character and situation before the pace quickens and the finale is explosive and deadly.


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