Django Unchained

Django Unchained ★★★★

Django Unchained doesn't reach the artistic heights of Tarantino's best films (Jackie Brown, Inglourious Basterds, Pulp Fiction). But it's a great movie about revenge, cruelty, brutality and love. Jamie Foxx is killer in the title role, doing his best work since Dreamgirls. He's icy and collected, with rage burning behind the eyes. Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson do what they do best and excel at it, creating vivid and colorful characters who are at once believable and baffling. Unfortunately, Kerry Washington isn't handed a meaty role to follow in the glorious footsteps of Jackie Brown, The Bride and Shoshanna. But she is really convincing and even heartbreaking as the damsel in distress.

But the standout of Django is Leonardo DiCaprio who so deliciously steps into the role of the villain Monsieur Candie, the cruel, ruthless if a tad dandy plantation owner. It's a performance like he's never done before. It's so over-the-top but menacing.

I guess the reason why I'm not over the moon for Django is because it lacked a lot of my favorite Tarantino trademarks. It could have benefitted from a nonlinear structure. Also, most Tarantino films have a large ensemble with the characters' independent story lines intersecting with each other in surprising or ironic ways (rest in peace, Sally Menke). I missed that in Django, which follows a sole protagonist with a singular (and thrilling) goal. It's not a bad thing for Tarantino to try something new and this movie does work wonderfully (even though 165 minutes is way too long for such a story). Still, Django isn't the best Tarantino movie but it's a solid and very enjoyable entry into his canon.

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