Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★★

Yes, Sharon. Everybody’s fine.

While Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood still prominently features Quentin Tarantino's patented brand of hyper-audacious ultraviolence, I was pleasantly gobsmacked by how tenderly it plays, as a whole. He's bidding goodbye to an era and singing it an elegy the only way he knows how—though one could argue as to whether it’s Tinseltown or him we’re supposed to wish well.

The film is indeed a fairytale, as its title would suggest: impossibly transportive and rapturously affectionate (towards LA, towards the '60s, towards moviemaking at large, towards [most importantly/movingly] Sharon Tate), with a fearfully dark undercurrent beneath (like every classic Grimm story). The princess is brought back to shimmering life, doubly (us watching Margot Robbie watch her is a transcendent moment). The heroes always win, so who cares what the villains'll try next? Its magic feels so uncharacteristically warm, coming from Tarantino, but so *right* just the same. There's nothing to do but luxuriate in the melancholic fantasy of it all.

The performers are batting at their best (this might be Leo's pièce de résistance, for me; Brad's never felt like more of an all caps STAR; Margot shines like the sun; Julia Butters did that™), every one of Robert Richardson's shots are artworks unto themselves, and Barbara Ling's production & Arianne Phillips' costume designs are the stuff cinematic dreams are made of. I could've journeyed on under this one's spell for hours and hours. You always want to stay in the land of make believe as long as possible.


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