Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★½

The highest compliment I can pay any movie that holds such a hefty runtime is that the whole works felt like 90 minutes. The first 75% of the film was Tarantino at his warmest, most humanistic. His love for the era shines through in everything from the impeccable set design to the casting and costuming. It felt like a love letter, painted onto celluloid.

The performances are lived-in to the point where you feel like you're watching the most beautiful documentary ever made about two past-their-prime best friends navigating a changing cinematic landscape. Pitt and DiCaprio are both masterful: Pitt's sinewy strut just barely masking his lethality, DiCaprio's tics and twitches bringing to life the desperation that plagues anyone who has succumbed to self-doubt. Margot Robbie is great in her scenes. The real closet MVP though is Margaret Qualley. Her hippie femme fatale doesn't get nearly enough screentime, but she dominates every frame she's in. She is going to be very big, very soon. And the soundtrack is killer.

And then there's the last 25%. No spoilers, but it may be some of the most purely cathartic and exhilarating filmmaking that I've ever seen. Tonally, it's quite the shift. Thankfully, the characters who Tarantino spent two hours meticulously crafting don't betray themselves. I really loved this movie and I can't wait to see it again.

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