Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Movie Review Rating: 4/5 Stars (Four stars!)
Star Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Margaret Qualley, Julia Butters, Austin Butler
Director: Quentin Tarantino
What’s Bad: We’re just one movie away from witnessing the end of an era!
Loo Break: Only if you want to get murdered in the washroom Tarantino style!
Watch or Not?: My opinion doesn’t matter! Those who’ve decided will anyway watch it, those who haven’t read ahead to make up your mind!
As his fans are aware of Tarantino’s obsession with Black & White, he decides to open Once Upon A Time In Hollywood with B&W frames. We see an interview of a famous movie star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) along with his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Cut to the next scene, Rick meets Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) who offers him roles in Western films. While you watch that scene, note how it starts with Rick acting as a heavyweight but ends up realising the hardest truth of his life.
Many such scenes later, Rick, after an outburst, accepts in front of Cliff that he is a has-been, and needs to change it. While Rick prepares for a pilot he doesn’t want to be in, we are taken to the background of Cliff and Sharon Tate’s (Margot Robbie) story. Sharon is Dalton’s next-door neighbour, married to Robin Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) and is also an actress. While the story intervenes between these Three leads, they’ve one thing common – passion for Hollywood. While one is doing just for the money, others have their purposes.
Debate with me, all you want but this is classic Tarantino. From making bold statements with contrasting colours to binding the sound design with the narrative, this is PURE gold at the screenplay level. Tarantino loves to pop the emotional outline through his colours; post the opening scene we see Brad in a Blue jacket drive his Blue Cadillac setting the ‘cool’ time since the start. Another typical-Tarantino trait is the length of the scenes. He elongates them to retain the flavour, build the expectations and create anticipation.
This movie has many such scenes, but they come with certain hiccups. Tarantino’s regular, Robert Richardson, handles the camera by the rules of master-director. Perfectly zooming in during the jittery scenes, taking a u-turn during a well-established send; the film is heavily filled with such Tarantino traits. Also, adored the way how many of the important scenes pan during a single day, showing all the happenings in the three major leads’ lives. Many are stating this as Quentin’s love letter to 1969’s LA, but for me, it’s a love letter to his undying passion for movies.
With the sheer display of emotions, Leonardo DiCaprio grabs his Oscar nomination with this one. While portraying a famous has-been, Leo takes every scene to pump it up with his natural brilliance. Watch out for a scene in which Brad has a conversation with a child actor – CLASSIC TARANTINO!
Brad Pitt will be eyeing to bring home the trophy for the best supporting actor, and he totally deserves it. He’s not just an aid to Leo’s character, but it’s beautiful how he drives his life (trust me, there are enough metaphors for that if you see it). Looking as suave as ever, Brad just refuses to not-look-dapper. Watch out for a scene in which he looks out for a certain George, and gets out in all ‘Peaky Blinders’ style amidst the tune of Robert Corff’s Don’t Chase Me Around.
Margot Robbie’s character is weakest of all three. She tries to compensate with her eternal charm but faces the downside of being in a Tarantino film.
This also could be because of a brilliant narrative going around the other two, Margot’s character just doesn’t land well. Al Pacino gets a pretty basic cameo. Did he deserve more? Definitely yes! Was the fan in me happy to see him on screen? A HUGE YES!
Margaret Qualley as Pussycat play this animated young hippie and she does well with the part. She plays with those expressions, and the mystery around her character helps to connect well. Julia Butters as Trudi Fraser share one of the best scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio. Her confident approach and some very well written lines, make her character shine amidst a plethora of good performances.
Quentin Tarantino takes the blank canvas to paint his feelings about movies. His love for Spaghetti Westerns, choice of colours, bewildering sound design, use of the camera as a character, editing in a style to create anticipation – I repeat, this is a classic Tarantino. He manages to direct multiple films in one single film. Taking a similar route he first showcases the bond between two contrasting friends, and how they come to a point where they’ve to divert their routes. Yes, as his previous work, he has toyed with violence retaining the novelty factor.
Music has always been a major aspect of any Tarantino film. In this one, he brings in a mixed bag of songs from Classic Westerns to Rock-‘n’-roll. Jose Feliciano’s California Dreaming, Chris Farlowe’s Out Of Time and many of the tracks make you tap your feet as you watch the scenes. Mixing car sounds with the background score, using cheeky sounds, to sum up, a violent scene, Tarantino sticks to his formula.
All said and done, this 9th film by Quentin Tarantino is a once-in-a-blue-moon movie because we don’t have many directors to invest a whole school of thoughts behind a subject like this. Leonardo DiCaprio & Brad Pitt make sure to make this a memorable venture for every fan out there.
Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood releases on 15 August, 2019.
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