Josh Gillam’s review published on Letterboxd:
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film follows washed up actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman and friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) in 1969 Hollywood as they try to keep afloat in the changing industry.
Tarantino fills the film to the brim with references and homages, and it was fun to spot them, especially the posters and ads scattered throughout. He really transports us to the era, and crafts an entertaining story around this. DiCaprio and Pitt have a great rapport, and give likeable, developed performances, with a bit of pathos added in as their characters realise that it’s the end of an era.
I enjoyed the film, but it’s quite a narrow view of the era, focusing almost exclusively on the white male perspective, most of the female characters lacking development and agency. The story also feels quite aimless and meandering, and the constant homages start to wear thin after a while, becoming self-indulgent.
The Sharon Tate scenes didn’t seem very fleshed out, and seemed to detract from the story instead of adding to it, and so when they joined up with the main story at the end it didn’t feel as cohesive and connected as it could have been.
I think all the various elements and plot points never quite connect into a satisfying and complete whole, but Once Upon A Time In Hollywood still an entertaining and wistful look at a moment in time.