by Martina Rebecca Inchingolo
Four years after his last release, The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino is back with his ninth film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film has been highly anticipated since its announcement: firstly because of the portrayal of a famous and horrifying Hollywood story; secondly for its stellar cast. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Al Pacino, and Dakota Fanning star among others, while in a posthumous appearance, Luke Perry cameos.
The story follows has-been TV actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his even less accomplished stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) struggling to achieve a successful career in Hollywood in 1969.
A box office success that’s not been immune to controversy, the audience has divided opinions on Tarantino’s interpretation of the infamous story. Set in the year actress Sharon Tate and a group of her friends were brutally murdered by Charles Manson’s ‘family,’ Margot Robbie’s Tate has raised some eyebrows as she has few lines in the film and her character is not as prominent as expected.
Tarantino changes some aspects of the real story around Tate’s life and death by giving her a second chance and a different look from the one of a silent victim. But that’s not the only fictional side of the film: while the director represents real life Hollywood elites such as Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen, Roman Polanski, whereas DiCaprio’s and Pitt’s characters are purely fictional inserts into this stream of history.
This unexpected duo work incredibly well on screen, which makes us wonder how this hasn’t happened before, as DiCaprio and Pitt are both decorated performers, yet have never co-starred in a major cinematic release. Both have also worked with Tarantino, who brings an uncharacteristically breezy direction, which serves the optimistic and romantic tones of the film.
Pitt’s character is a perfect fit: confident, charming and attractively brave. But the real star is DiCaprio, his performance flawless and surprisingly funny, which could land him a sixth Oscar nomination.
The excellent acting is not the only aspect that makes the film a must-watch: it is also the beautiful city of Los Angeles in the late 60s, lending the story a nostalgic feeling. This film is a love letter from the director to his home. We see Tarantino’s Los Angeles, inspired by the memories of him sitting in a car with his dad, driving around the streets of the glamorous town.
Even though fans of the director’s work were a little disappointed by the lack of bloody violence until the final act, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a masterpiece.
The realisation and the acting are phenomenal, and its ending is delightfully unexpected. This film is worth your time and is something you must experience in a cinema.
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is playing at the university’s Macrobert Arts Centre from 30 August until 5 September: Tickets