The thing about a Tarantino movie is that its never about how irrelevant or extraordinary the plot is, its always about the memorable characters he creates and the sharp dialogues he writes for them, which undoubtedly makes his films one of the most quotable films of all time. Once upon a time in Hollywood is no different, although the plot never comes, the characters come and stay with us for a long time.
Loosely based on murder of Sharon Tate by Manson Family members (or was it?), a film that has all the elements of a classic Tarantino scores big on the technicalities. The film is stylishly shot and becomes often indulging. Gorgeous cinematography by Robert Richardson, a Tarantino and Scorsese regular, delivers every shot with perfection, and makes you a part of the 60s even though you weren’t born for the next 30years (I could totally understand why the 60s generation has taken a different liking for the film). There are many scenes which you would appreciate for its intricate detailing, but the one which stuck with me and was a classic Tarantino, was a scene where Pacino’s character is talking about the double feature he watched of Dicaprio’s character the other night, when he talks about 35mm we see 35mm and when he talks about 16mm we see 16mm, Bravo. You are so much immersed in 60s Hollywood, you wont realize you are existing in 2019. Tarantino really wanted to just show off his knowledge about Hollywood, and at some point you feel that.
The other thing that works (like every other QT movie) is the music. One thing you could blindly trust QT is to pick his music for his films. Brilliance all around.
But when you get two of the biggest stars of Hollywood together for the first time on screen, its inevitable what’s gonna work the best for you. Its Brad Pitt’s brooding, charming, smooth-talking and macho-persona teamed up with Dicaprio’s earnest, despair, grief-stricken yet toxicating performance that keeps you hooked to the screen. Dicaprio plays Rick Dalton a fading Hollywood actor and Pitt plays Cliff Booth the stunt double and an extremely loyal friend. Both the actors are in great form here and their on screen chemistry just tells you that. Even though there is no melodrama involved, you could totally conclude that these guys would die for each other. It seemed like a more mature version of Jules and Vincent. But on the other hand Margot Robbie was painfully under-utilized and that’s all I could say about her character, although she does look as mesmerizing as Sharon Tate. All the cameos where brilliantly infused in the movie especially Mike Moh who plays the legend Bruce Lee and Kurt Russell plays a stunt director, that entire scene was a classic Mr Tarantino, and undoubtedly the funniest scene of the movie (and boy oh boy he is one of the biggest admirers of Bruce Lee(Kill Bill’s Yellow Suit), lot of unnecessary controversy I would say, like with his every movie). Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning and the almighty himself Al Pacino all did an amazing job and they never felt forceful. Special mentions to Margaret Qualley, whi plays pussycat a member of manson family and the wonderful little Julia Butters who plays Trudi Fraser, a child actor. The scenes between Trudi and Rick Dalton are the one to watch. There wasnt a single off note in acting, and thats expected from a QT movie.
But what really disappoints is that the film had all the elements of a classic Tarantino, but it just wasnt quite there. Even with gorgeous visuals, powerpacked performances and pumping music, you just couldn’t feel it and for that lack of strong character-philosophy could be blamed, a strong point in every other Tarantino movie. Nevertheless there wasn’t a moment where I got bored or felt the movie was tedious. Its funny, its quotable, it lures you into the mesmerizing world of 60s Hollywood but when you walk out of the theatre you would ask yourself, could it have been better?
Well its not his best, but its a perfect love letter to Hollywood from its staunch admirer, a fairytale nonetheless. A man who has spend his whole life referencing popculture in his movies, has become a pop culture icon himself, or atleast his films have. Lets wait for his last film now.
P. S. Climax will definitely go on to be one of the best scenes of the year.
Overall Ratings: 3.5/5