The 9th film by acclaimed writer and director Quentin Tarantino, and what could well be his penultimate film before his departure from Hollywood. Tarantino has said many times that he would only ever produce/direct/write 10 films; 10 films to be proud of. With that in mind, his new film ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ could be one of the last times we get to experience a new Tarantino film at the cinema. That thought leaves me feeling fairly empty as he has been one of the most influential writer/directors in modern history and in my eyes, has not made a bad or unentertaining piece of work since his inception with ‘Reservoir Dogs’.
His latest film follows three characters around the golden age of cinema in 1969, in Hollywood. ‘Rick Dalton’ (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a big TV star, who always seems to get the role of the ‘heavy’ which usually means his characters have a lifespan of one episode, namely the pilot. Rick is in a difficult time of his life as he is struggling to make the jump to the big screen and most importantly, his confidence is very low as a result. Alongside Rick, ‘Cliff Booth’ (Brad Pitt) has to experience the motions and tribulations of Rick’s career as Cliff was once his stunt double. Rick is now, at the best of times, Rick’s driver/handyman. Cliff’s career is faulting due to his hostile and aggressive manner on set meaning he is not well liked by cast. To make matters worse for the two, the rising star that is ‘Sharon Tate’ (Margot Robbie) moves in next door to Rick Dalton and is a constant reminder of the heights that both Rick and Cliff cannot obtain.
Like all Tarantino movies, you are always going to be treated to fantastic characters, which is definitely the case in this film with Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. Both characters are extremely likeable and are both portrayed brilliantly by DiCaprio and Pitt. Both of the actors bring the characters to life and fit into the universe that Tarantino has created. Then we have Margot Robbie who is the spitting image of the late Sharon Tate but is unfortunately wasted on screen as her character has very little to do; seemingly the majority of her scenes are simply fillers between those featuring Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth. Like a lot of this film Sharon Tate fails to achieve anything towards the plot, just a character floating through the storyline with no real purpose. It is a shameful waste of the talent Margot Robbie possesses.
‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ will likely go down as my least favourite Tarantino movie in his back catalogue. Being someone who holds Tarantino’s work in high regard it pains me to say this but there is no hiding the struggle to see the direction of this film. There isn’t a specific storyline at all, and with that in mind, the film trots along at a boring, flat pace towards our two hour and forty one minute running time. Now, for a film with a running time of just under three hours, there needs to be something there to keep us entertained along the way. Unfortunately ‘in Hollywood’ has only glimmers of entertainment, very rare and all seem to feature Cliff Booth who is by far and away, the best character in the film. Of these moments a memorable scene follows Cliffs introduction to the Manson cult which ties in with the sudden twist to provide us a horror/thriller finale; one that is truly bizarre and action paced. Even with the finale having me in stitches of laughter, quite possibly from shock, it still wasn’t enough to warrant the film being held in as high praise as Tarantino’s previous films. This is the first time I can say that I’ve been disappointed by watching a Quentin Tarantino movie and hopefully this is the last time I say it too.
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