Review: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
It's official, he's a has been.
In Hollywood, 1969 - Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading TV star trying to hold onto relevancy with his stunt double, Cliff Booth. (Brad Pitt) Cliff has a chance encounter with members of the notorious Manson family that will eventually change their lives forever.
I've been torn about this movie ever since it was announced. At first, I was bothered by the fact that Tarantino was including Sharon Tate, which I felt had potential to be kind of exploitative. Then the trailers came out, and the film actually looked really good. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he probably wasn't going to actually show Tate's murder - and he doesn't - but I'm not sure what he does with her even makes her appearance in this film worth it.
To be clear, this movie would be unwatchable without Brad Pitt. It's not that DiCaprio is a bad actor or that Dalton isn't an interesting character, DiCaprio is great and Dalton's predicament is both compelling and sometimes amusing. It's just that nearly every scene he is in for the first two hours of the film drags. For instance, we see Dalton mess up a take on set and pitch a fit about it in his trailer afterwards, but we watch what feels like an entire 20 minute sequence of said scene that we didn't need to understanding that messing up his lines in front of the entire crew is hard for him. And there are plenty more scenes like that throughout. Booth's story, the one that directly involves the film's antagonists moves at a much quicker pace. This brings me to Sharon Tate. (Margot Robbie)
The only purpose Sharon Tate serves in this film is that of an interlude between scenes. Her arc is literally going to a movie theater to see one of her own films. That's it. That's where nearly all of her dialogue is, otherwise, she's there to look beautiful while we transition to the next scene. It's such a weird use of her considering so many other actors - Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, etc all show up for one scene only and are never seen again. And the one part of the film where they could actually insert her into the main plot, we instead get her voice over an intercom. It's a bizarre part for someone like Robbie who is receiving 3rd billing.
I know there's already plenty of better written pieces out there talking about the violence against women in this film, but it is quite jarring. Yes, the violence "makes sense" within the context of the film, but it's the way its shot that I found uncomfortable. The camera absolutely revels in the gruesome deaths two women receive in this movie, while the man being murdered is largely off screen and is shot with many cuts. There's a clear difference in the way each death was shot. Not to mention, Booth for some reason killed his nagging wife in the past. It's hinted at in a flashback, and then it goes nowhere. It's an excuse for why he doesn't get work, but after watching the glee taken in murdering the women at the end, it seems like an odd choice. In fact, this entire movie is just a bunch of odd choices.
I like Tarantino's movies more than not, but his last few efforts really haven't done it for me. I never expected him to put out films that would become less watchable than Death Proof but here he is with two in a row. This one wasn't for me.
Memorable Quote: "Anybody accidentally kills anybody they go to jail...it's called manslaughter." - Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt)