My darling readers, today I’ll be reviewing one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I am beyond excited that Quentin Tarantino’s latest picture finally hit cinemas and I already went to see it multiple times.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set in 1969 following the lives of actor Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth. They are both struggling in a changing world.
In the meantime, Rick’s neighbor Sharon Tate is on her way to success in Hollywood…
Okay, so here’s the deal. I, for my part, really enjoyed this film. However, it is obvious to me, why many people didn’t.
First of all, there isn’t all that much of a story going on. I think Tarantino was more trying to capture the vibe of the 1960s, the zeitgeist and getting that feeling across. If you aren’t into the 1960s aesthetic, this might not be for you.
I absolutely love the 1960s and could watch the film for the clothes and music alone. However, I am also quite familiar with the movies of that time. So for me, the not really existing story about Sharon Tate was interesting. But if the only thing you know about her is that she was a Manson family victim, you’ll be bored with her scenes.
Unless you have some background knowledge, you won’t get why many of the scenes are in this film as several of them don’t seem to contribute pretty much anything to the story. Let me give you an example. In one scene, Sharon goes to a bookshop to buy a copy of Tess D’Urberville for her husband. This scene is not particularly interesting nor has it any relevance for the rest of the picture. However, the scene gets interesting if you know that Sharon had read that precise book, loved it and wanted to get her husband Polanski to make a film of it. She would have played the leading character. The day she gave him the book was actually the last time Polanski would see his wife before she was murdered. He did end up making the film about ten years after her passing and dedicated it to her. The movie title Tess was a huge success and nominated for six Academy Awards.
There are several instances in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood where scenes will be lost on you without at least a bit of background knowledge. Tarantino included so many details, every time I re-watched the film I discovered something I had missed before.
I am not a big fan of the whole cowboy movie/series production thing that went on in the 50s and 60s so I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of stuff going on that I missed. Those scenes are a bit more action-packed and DiCaprio’s parts of the film are closer to telling a real story. So I think that’s the portion most people will be able to get into.
Of course, I wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without any epic fight scenes, over the top deaths and, of course, some bad jokes. Just be aware that those scenes are somewhat rarer than in, say, Inglorious Basterds.
DiCaprio and Pitt both deliver splendid performances and have a great dynamic going on. They really are acting their asses off and especially Pitt blew me away. DiCaprio also went all-in but for my taste, his character was just whining a bit too much. However, that’s part of the script and not a fault in his performance.
You’ll be spotting tons of familiar faces in this picture. I knew that Tarantino had enlisted many stars but I was still surprised just how many there actually were.
One part that annoyed me was Tarantino’s obvious foot fetish. By now we all know that he has a thing for feet but in this picture, he had so many scenes with women’s dirty feet filling the frame, it was beyond excessive and unnecessary.
Anyways, little flaws aside, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was a thorough success for me. It gave me a chance to immerse in this period Tarantino composed an ode to. Not only the costumes or the music make the experience so authentic, but he also made sure to include bits of original films of that time instead of re-enacting them. I am sure it wasn’t cheap or even easy to get the rights for all those films!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a love song to an era. It’s a picture produced by a film-lover for fellow film lovers. I am not sure how interesting the movie is if you don’t have at least some knowledge on the 60s but for me, it was a win!
Are you a Tarantino fan? Let me know in the comments!