Movie Review – Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood

TL;DR – I have used many adjectives to describe Quentin Tarantino’s films before but dull is a new one here.    

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is an end-credit scene

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood. Image Credit: Sony.

Review

Quentin Tarantino is a very specific kind of director and sort of puts him in a category where I find a lot of people either love or hate his films. I have found myself falling into both categories in the past with me adoring some of his films like Django Unchained and really not liking some of his other works like The Hateful Eight. However, whatever the case may be, I have always walked out of his films with strong feelings one way or the other, but not this time, this time I walked out looking at my watch to see how much time that took.

So to set the scene, we open in on Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) star of the most popular show on TV Bounty Law as he gives an interview with his long-time stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Flash forward to the end of the decade and after a failed swing at movies Rick has been demoted to playing the bad guy or ‘heavy’ in other people’s shows and Cliff is still there as his driver and assistant. Well, one day a new opportunity arises for Rick, a real chance at something, but what neither Rick nor Cliff knows is that there are people out there that do not have everyone’s best interests at heart and a friendly smile might hide violent personality.

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood. Image Credit: Sony.
There are some strong character moments but I am not sure that was enough. Image Credit: Sony.

I feel like this review is going to be a little negative or at least a bit meh, which is a bit of a shame because there are really interesting moments here. Leo has some really strong scenes as someone who has watched his career implode and is trying to hold it together but an alcohol dependency among other things is not letting him. There is a lot of visual storytelling like when Cliff takes off his shirt and at first you think this is just a gratuitous shoot they added to show off in the trailer, but then you see the years of damage etched across his body. There were some interesting insert edits that didn’t have to usual flow and also this might some of the best inserts into old films that I have seen. There were also standout performances throughout the film like Julia Butters as Trudi Fraser the child actor and maybe the only professional on that set or Zoë Bell as Janet the stunt coordinator that gets some of the best lines in the film. As well as this, there is some real moment of tension, the problem is that you have to wade through so much to get to these gems.

The one thing that really stood out for me is how this film feels like a greatest hits collection for Quentin. Excessive violence, check, gratuitous feet shots, check, historical reinvention, check, a love letter to films/actors of the past, check, weird insertion of narration, check, shots of people’s heads as they drive, check, time jumps that make you grown, check, a long list of actors that he has worked with in the past, check and check. None of these in itself are an issue, but when the film is as dull as it is they just stand out and you can’t help but notice them.

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood. Image Credit: Sony.
The story hinges on you knowing one event in Hollywood’s past to justify all the meandering that goes on. Image Credit: Sony.

The key issue where this film falls down for me is in its story which all hinges on you the audience knowing a very specific detail of the Manson Family’s terror. So for those who do, they will understand why having Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) just float around throughout the whole film doing nothing is important. Or why having Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) in the film in this day and age was needed. This entire film hinges on that moment of historical revisionism at the end, and I am sure that was a cool moment for some people, I was completely bored by that point.

In the end, do we recommend Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood? Honestly, no, not really. I feel this film is like going to your parent’s place and then they pull out a photo album of their last holiday. Sure there are a couple of cool moments, but it goes on for one hour too long, filled with multiple tangents with no real payoff, moments where you bite your tongue rather than point out the very problematic thing they just said, and then leave wondering what the point was. Also, just a final point, I know this is set in the past but goodness this film could almost be an ad for cigarette companies, and no I don’t mean the end-credit scene.         

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
 


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood
Directed by
– Quentin Tarantino
Written by – Quentin Tarantino
Music by – Assorted other scores of the past and their composure’s
Cinematography by – Robert Richardson
Edited by – Fred Raskin
Production/Distribution Companies – Columbia Pictures, Bona Film Group, Heyday Films, Visiona Romantica & Sony Pictures
Starring
– Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Butters, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Al Pacino, Brenda Vaccaro, Nicholas Hammond, Samantha Robinson, Rafał Zawierucha, Lorenza Izzo, Costa Ronin & Damon Herriman with Lena Dunham, Madisen Beaty, Mikey Madison, James Landry Hébert, Maya Hawke, Victoria Pedretti, Sydney Sweeney, Harley Quinn Smith, Dallas Jay Hunter, Kansas Bowling, Parker Love Bowling, Cassidy Vick Hice, Ruby Rose Skotchdopole, Danielle Harris, Josephine Valentina Clark, Dyani Del Castillo, Ronnie Zappa, Scoot McNairy, Clifton Collins Jr., Marco Rodríguez, Ramón Franco, Courtney Hoffman, Heba Thorisdottir, Dreama Walker, Rachel Redleaf, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Rumer Willis, Spencer Garrett, Clu Gulager, Martin Kove, Rebecca Gayheart, Kurt Russell & Zoë Bell and Sayuri 
  

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