ONCE UPON A TIME… IN HOLLYWOOD / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: QUENTIN TARANTINO / STARRING: LEONARDO DICAPRIO, BRAD PITT, MARGOT ROBBIE, EMILE HIRSCH, MARGARET QUALLEY, TIMOTHY OLYPHANT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Special Features: Five featurettes / Additional scenes
In Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, the iconic filmmaker looks to capture a snapshot of a special place and time. That place is indeed Hollywood, and that time is 1969.
With a backdrop of Hollywood’s changing of the guard and the looming large presence of the Manson Family, the central attraction here is Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton and his longtime stuntman Cliff Booth (Pitt). A star of the classic Westerns of the 1950s, Dalton is desperate to stay relevant as the peace and love of the day threatens to leave him behind. Elsewhere, Rick’s new neighbours just so happen to be Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and Sharon Tate (Robbie) – with Sharon still in awe at so much of the world around her.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is an unusual beast when it comes to its narrative. The above paragraph is essentially the key components of the loose plot of the picture, yet the movie is so much more. The brass tacks of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood position it as a minimalist film about a star of yesteryear clinging on to his career, but there is just so much going on across the effort’s nearly three-hour runtime. Complete with a stunning ensemble cast and a whole host of Easter eggs, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is arguably Tarantino’s most stripped back, basic movie, while being one of his finest. It really is a strange film to nail down and fully do justice to when describing it – particularly without wanting to veer too much towards spoiler territory.
As Rick Dalton, DiCaprio is on career best form, perfectly encapsulating the fading star who both loves and loathes himself and where he finds himself in life. The Golden Age of Hollywood is fading into the distance, and so too is Rick’s career. In a multi-faceted performance, DiCaprio puts in a powerhouse display that again reiterates why he’s one of the very best in the game today. Likewise, Pitt’s cool, calm Cliff Booth is such a fun character to watch, and he gets most of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood’s best lines and sequences.
Visually, this could well be the most beautiful movie of Quentin Tarantino’s career, with Kill Bill Vol. 1 the only film coming close on that front. This is Tarantino at his most vibrant, his most detailed, and his most stylish – and the end result is a visual delight of a film which pops from the screen.
If QT is still adamant to call time on his directing career after his next movie, we should all enjoy the filmmaker while we can. And with Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Tarantino has delivered something truly special.
Elsewhere on this release, the five featurettes are all short, engaging pieces that explore certain elements of putting Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood together and capturing the spirit of 1969. Similarly, the additional scenes are an entertaining watch that offer up some fun 'what ifs?' for the audience.