So it’s 2018 and I’m having a party at home. My friend, Mike, comes over from out of town and my cousin and her friend spot him. They whisper to each other, giggle silently, and when Mike walks in, they both say a polite hi. In strolls my sister and, without reservation, bursts out saying “Mike! You’ve gained so much weight!” and my cousin and her friend can’t contain themselves anymore. They let all restraint go and laugh their hearts out. Now, what does this have to do with Tarantino’s latest flick, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood?
Now on to my review:
Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood is a comedy drama film about two veterans in the film industry – an actor and his stunt double. It’s set in Los Angeles 1969 (we’ll get back to this, please keep Mike in mind) and follows the life of Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), an actor in the twilight of his career, struggling to avoid falling into the type-cast rut, and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Pitt plays Cliff as a happy-go-lucky, silent-but-competent, and down-to-earth companion to Rick’s struggling-alcoholic-raging-sometimes-maniac actor trying to get his image back.
The film chronicles their day-to-day lives, going through their highs and lows in Hollywood as Rick seeks to make a name for himself and Cliff enjoys the ride for as long as he can.
Enter Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her new husband Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha), Rick’s new neighbors, and Rick floats around the idea of salvaging his acting career by crashing a pool party hosted by Polanski (the hottest new director in Hollywood) and meeting the who’s who of Hollywood. But this ultimately goes nowhere…
And a lot of the film does this. Numerous teases on where the plot could possibly go, only for the film to completely ignore them and go…nowhere. Two hours into the film and I still had no idea where it was going. Most films follow the three act structure where:
1. The main conflict is established
2. A climax is reached
3. The conflict is resolved
Two hours into the film, I was vaguely familiar with the conflict – Rick trying to regain his career – but after that, the film meanders, seemingly aimlessly.
The only saving grace for this film is in the final 15 minutes where Tarantino reintroduces his signature ultra-violence in the most unexpected of ways.
Oh, and the acting, direction, cinematography and color pallet of this film were flawless. Which is why I will not dwell on them.
The film ended and I asked myself: is there something I’m missing? what the heck did I just watch?
And now back to Mike. Why did my cousin and her friend ball over laughing like little children? Because Mike used to be really fit. He used to declare that he’d never let himself go and that he’d continue to look good. It was funny because there was a context that preceded the content of my sister’s remark of his…success curve. And this film lacks context. It was only after doing research on the film that this much needed context was added. If you want to be in on what’s got this film such stellar reviews – then you need to familiarize yourself with Sharon Tate (Wikipedia should help) and Charles Manson. If you especially want to get more familiar, pay attention to the dates. You will thank me later…
Even knowing what I know about Tate and Manson, I find it difficult to recommend this film to any but the biggest of film buffs, and that – to me – is a far cry from the Tarantino that I am used to.
I’m very happy he managed to make such a good-looking-well-acted film, I just wish it appealed to people who weren’t in on ‘it’.
*Rating:* watching it once was enough, never going to watch it again (6/10)
– by Ghost Man on Third