khoi97’s review published on Letterboxd:
Update: Upon further discussion and after thoughts, this film is filled with make gaze and it is quite problematic in term of its treatment toward female characters.
6.9 - Saturated in glam and glitz of Hollywood in the late '60s, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a long-winded (and sometimes boring) journey that leads to an underwhelming finale.
Enjoyment: 3.0/5 | Quality: 3.9/5
I wanted to like this movie, I really did. It has all the checkmarks to be the blockbuster of the summer that also happens to be award darling when Oscar season comes around. However, the result is a lackluster film with incongruous pacing and unfocused narrative. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is probably Quentin Tarantino's weakest installment to date.
The film's main star, and deservingly so, is Leonardo DiCaprio. With flashy neon Hollywood as the film's backdrop, he never fades behind. Commanding the camera every single minute that he was on screen, Dicaprio brings a charisma that a few Hollywood's superstars possess. He will be in the conversation in the Oscar season, and his performance in here makes a solid case why he should bring the gold statue home the second time.
Brad Pitt also shines, bringing back the charm and badassery into his character, reminding the audience what made him the heartthrob of the '90s in the first place.
I wish I can praise the rest of the cast as I did with our two protagonists, but unfortunately, they were underutilized, preventing them from showcasing their talents.
As for the plot, the film suffers from the Tarantioned-style narrative (the separated storylines that tie together in the finale). Long-winded and unnecessary at parts, the film could have been 10 or 15 minutes shorter and it would not affect the film's outcome at all.
The finale, possibly my favorite part of the entire film, is wildly entertaining. Packing with many Tarantino's trademarks, the last 20 minutes are fun but does it justify the slow and sluggish preceding 2-hour? I personally do not think so.