Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Such a lot of fun. It's not short, but the easy confidence and the style kept me entertained from beginning to end—truly a class act. Never looks like it's trying too hard. The sort of cool that looks effortless, accompanied by perfect, spot-on pop selections. Unpredictable too—I never for a moment knew where it was going to go. Didn't really care either, it's not the sort of movie where you get invested in the characters, there's not a lot of plot, I was just along for the ride.

Rather than telling a story, Tarantino's latest is about character and place. The two main male characters have hidden depths and fully-realised interior lives, brilliantly portrayed. The recreation of 70's Los Angeles is detailed and holistic and exact to a degree that only obsession could achieve, gloriously reverent towards Hollywood movies and the people who made them, big and small, while acknowledging the sadness and darkness therein. The counter-factual dénouement brings to mind the climax of his Inglourious Basterds which utterly bamboozled me at the time—'He can't do that!'—except it's a movie. He can do anything he wants. So it is here, with a bizarre, funny, bloody climax and a happy ending that no-one deserves, least of all us, the audience, but bang, here we are. That's quality entertainment, that is.

As the title suggests, this is about a real and particular time and place, and it's nice to know some of the background: the story of Sharon Tate and the Manson family; a lot of the movies and personalities involved or referred to or who provided inspiration. And it's also a mythic LA, fully saturated, and sometimes it feels elegiac but at the end it feels as though it could go on forever.

DiCaprio's character is not a great actor, and we get to see a lot of his work. I'm always fascinated to see good actors portraying bad acting. This is a masterclass.

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