Joshua Gill’s review published on Letterboxd:
I think it’s safe to say that Tarantino is one of the best living directors to date. His films have almost never dipped below decent and he always finds ways to balance likable characters and thrilling action. While Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is mostly a departure from Tarantino’s signature style of fast paced action expertly woven with well written characters, this may be one of his best films to date.
Like I said before, this film is a departure from the typical Tarantino formula, opting to be much slower and dialogue heavy. This strategy can only work if the acting of this film is perfect, and I’m glad to say that it was. The film is carried by it’s performances and writting and its so amazing to see that everyone did their absolute best in this film. Leonardo DiCaprio is amazing, Brad Pitt steals the show, and their chemistry is easily the best aspect of the film. Their’s a scene where both of them commentate over a television episode and it manages to somehow be entertaining. Even Margot Robbie, as she seemingly has little to do in the film, manages to give a great performance as she explores this nostalgic trip back to the golden era of Hollywood.
Tarantino once stated that this film was “my most personal film” and “my love letter to L.A.” These sentiments are expressed passionately through its cinematography and production design. Their is not a single frame in this film that breaks the perception that this is 1969 Hollywood. The production captures this this time period perfectly while peppering in many films nostalgic to Tarantino. Even the title of the film is inspired by Sergio Leone’s films Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America. The cinematography also oozes nostalgia from classic films of the era. There was a birds-eye-view shot of a man riding on a horse that seems heavily inspired by westerns of the 60’s, and that’s only scratching the surface of the shots used to express that love of Hollywood.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is one of Tarantino’s most passionate films in his filmography. With the unbelievable performances, stellar production and shots, it’s a film that immerses its viewer into the foundational, wild, and magical world of 1969 Hollywood. It’s simply of product of love from a talented director who clearly admires an era of Hollywood that inspired his career.