‘Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood’ Film Review: An Exuberant Love Letter to a Bygone Era
In Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, the viewer erupts in laughter with some of the most genius surprises in movie history, which are sometimes violent and at others actor-driven knee-jerking performances by two of the most talented role-players in three decades, Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant, The Great Gatsby, Titanic) and Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Ocean’s Eleven, Fight Club).
Set in Hollywood of 1969, DiCaprio plays a struggling actor Rick Dalton and Pitt is a former war hero Cliff Booth, Dalton’s stuntman.
While shooting, director Quentin Tarantino’s attention to detail and respect for the viewer demanded whole streets be shut down to make room for authentic props and posters and for about 2,000 old, colorful cars that were used to bring authenticity without the help of CGI.
When it comes to directors, there’s none like Quentin Tarantino.
He’s brought us moviemaking masterpieces like Pulp Fiction (1994), brutal excitement with Reservoir Dogs (1992) or with The Hateful Eight (2015) proof that you don’t need a cape and a 300-million-dollar budget to captivate the viewers with an almost three-hour-long film where most of the action happens in knee-deep snow and a ramshackle cottage.
In fact, the more you love movies, the more you love Tarantino’s work.
Tarantino’s films explore across genres, mixing anything from Japanese samurai flicks to 1960s westerns and 1970s blaxploitations.
Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood is Tarantino’s ninth film, which he has called the climax of his work.
He felt secure enough to create some scenes on the spot, and in result, I have to agree with Mr. Brad Pitt, who said in an interview that the film includes one of the best meltdowns by a character in moviemaking history.
Much of what happens in Once Upon a Time . . . is filmed in a way where the camera just follows the cast, while they perform their daily duties from acting to running daily errands in a real setting. It creates suspense. It creates surprises. It leaves room for ingenious dialogue where the chemistry between DiCaprio and Pitt is felt on your skin.
Surprisingly, they had never acted together in a film before, which, perhaps, from a viewer’s standpoint, makes their connection even stronger.
The film includes great performances by the legendary Al Pacino (Heat, The Godfather, Scarface) as Marvin Schwarz, an endorser for Italian westerns, and Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate (Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street, I, Tonya) an actress and ingénue of the ‘60s.
For Tarantino, who lived in Los Angeles in ’69, the film is a memory piece. It’s about the location and it’s about the films of the period that shaped him.
It’s a love letter to a bygone Hollywood.
‘Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood’ premieres in Finland August 16.