This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
When I saw the Sony logo, my friend and I jokingly stated that this would be a bad movie, like the majority of Sony's cinematic fare. And...it wasn't too far off.
Easily my least favorite Tarantino film, yet still one of the best films of the year, and I feel like it's mostly because of my personal preferences rather than outright flaws. This "unholy trinity" of knocks against the movie are pandering, meandering, and DiCaprio. People seem to be using this movie as a martyr of originality and director-driven storytelling as compared to nostalgic reboots that plague theatres, but honestly, this film is no different from your Star Wars, Terminators, Jurassic whatevers, and Lion Kings with a lot of content being, "Hey, look at this thing you remember. Remember 60's music? Remember Taco Bell? Remember Bruce Lee and Roman Polanski? Remember Sharon Tate? I hope you remember Sharon Tate, because she's one of the most important red herrings in this film even though all she does is watch a movie with her shoes off while you wait for her to get stabbed by the Manson family. Member?" It gets a bit distracting with these hamfisted attempts to bring 1969 Hollywood to life. It's so bland when compared to his usual style of recontextualizing scenes and styles to create something new. Some of these sequences, especially Tate's scenes and DiCaprio acting and interacting with an annoying kid, bores me to tears and it's a film that certainly feels its run time. Speaking of DiCaprio, I just think my tolerance for "yelling a lot in a funny accent" has decreased steadily. Please remember, my favorite DiCaprio movie is The Revenant, where he doesn't talk for most of it. He just seems to be a distraction for the person he's playing in the film, I just don't buy his schtick as a failing actor. It would've been so much more effective to cast someone else, who's career path is more similar to Rick Dalton. Essentially, I'm apathetic for most of the film.
These three stars are mostly reserved for Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth, by and far the performance and story that make this film. His characterization as a more reserved back-up player in the film industry whose reputation is marred by Hollywood gossip and loves driving and his dog is great and I'm so glad the film didn't go the easy route with Booth and Dalton having arguments and going their separate ways before triumphantly coming back together, which is what most other filmmakers would've done with the premise. And of course, he's the one who gets involved in the Manson family plot, becoming a badass that easily enters the pantheon of great action heroes who doesn't take shit in the tensest moments of the film. He has his moment of redemption saving Dalton's new wife from the crazed members of the Manson family in the glorious Tarantino-esque action sequences. It really is the film equivalent of SpongeBob dropping the patties on the grill and the crowd going, "That's what we've been waiting for." It's gloriously gory schlock that I was waiting for for the majority of the film. This film is the Cliff Booth show and I would gladly watch a supercut of just his story. Everything else, meh, take it or leave it.