Thomas’s review published on Letterboxd:
It was time to hang out with Rick, Cliff, and Sharon again.
Tarantino´s “modern fairy tale tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's Golden Age” is so relaxing to me, like a nice evening with good friends. For most of its runtime, it´s so calm and laid-back that I just sit here and enjoy the vibe.
Tarantino is the world´s most famous movie nerd and he goes all out in this film. The worldbuilding and recreation of 60s Hollywood is so detailed, well-constructed, and immersive that I could completely lose myself in this world. The city feels lived-in and full of personality and there is something to discover in almost every frame. The “Best Production Design” Oscar was well-deserved.
But the main reason why I love to return to this film are the lovable and fully realized characters. Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth have such a wonderfully authentic male friendship dynamic, it´s such a joy to watch their interactions. Maybe my favorite movie bromance of the last decade (that´s an idea for a list I could make). I especially love the small moments like when they watch Rick´s “FBI” episode together and comment on every scene. Like I said, it feels like hanging out with your friends. Leonardo DiCaprio kills it once again and his scenes on the “Lancer” TV series set are the standout moments, acting-wise (I just love watching actors playing actors in movies), but the overall MVP is probably Brad Pitt, who just owns every scene with his confident charisma. And then there is Margot Robbie´s carefree, innocent, and stunning Sharon Tate, the embodiment of Tarantino´s fairy tale vision of classic Hollywood. Nothing bad could ever happen to her, right? Not if Tarantino has something to say about it.
I´ve said that most of the film is laid-back and relaxing, but there are of course exceptions, which show once again that Tarantino is a master in switching between tones. Once example is the incredibly suspenseful and foreboding Spahn Ranch sequence and another example is the exhilarating ending. Like “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained”, the ending is a form of cinematic wish fulfillment and artistic revenge against historical villains. And it´s glorious. Over the top violence has rarely been this cathartic. If the witty dialogue, obscure movie references, and bare women´s feet haven´t convinced you that this is a Tarantino flick, the ending will do the job.
All in all, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” is less flashy than other Tarantino movies, but it is one of his most mature, heartfelt, and engrossing films. It oozes nostalgia and sentimental melancholy as well as love for cinema and it always puts me in a pleased and content frame of mind.