This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
lyra’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Tarantino isn't a god, although I will freely admit that I find it a very tricky film to wrap my head around. Reactionary and inflammatory, it's very quick to discredit the youthful counter-cultural movements of the 1960s (the only representative of them being the Manson Family illustrates the point quite nicely), which is indicative of the author's own position in the film. Make no mistake, this is an 'auteur's movie', one about the golden age of Hollywood made real and unaverse through a point of reference that grounds it as the cheap, superficial town it remains to this day. Because of this I think, above all else, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is about fantasy. What does every character wish they got out of the world? Cliff (Brad Pitt) gets his friend, Sharon keeps her child and Rick gets his second chance. Morality aside, can you blame the film for wanting to buy into it all? I guess that's the major reason why I take issue with people making bad faith criticisms about Cliff fighting Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and the Sharon Tate party-girl persona (the latter of which seems to be a symbolic embodiment of what we should want to get out of the film). However this is not to say that these things themselves are comfortable watching; it's still sexist and racist to a degree worth pointing out. The ending sees Rick enjoy that fantasy. Revel in it. The film has no problems exonerating his behaviour, although I will grant that it's within the context of the (very, very specific) Hollywood fantasy itself. Never was a truer word written when I said that its sharp focus mismatches with its creation of wide space leaving it unable to fulfil its own requests.