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Film Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Tarantino revolutionizes the period piece in this outrageous Manson murder tale

I am a naïve idiot. There’s no good reason that I should continue to believe that Quentin Tarantino won’t outdo himself again, but every time he blasts an incredible film into my face until it explodes in a magnificently gruesome display. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is no exception to this pattern. This is arguably Tarantino’s funniest film and undeniably his craziest ending. Though, his infatuation with women’s feet reaches new off-putting levels… it just has to be addressed. 

This time, Tarantino puts his own unique and unexpected twist on history. His old-timey signatures finally find a proper home through a series of old-timey vignettes, such as his ridiculous zoom and pan effect. The movie frequently cuts away for minutes at a time to video clips, which are enjoyable to watch as a standalone scene without taking you out of the movie as a whole. 

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are the best onscreen duo since John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, an actor, and Pitt plays Cliff Booth, the most badass character of all time, as well as Rick’s stunt double/assistant/best friend. Their close relationship is as believable as it is hilarious. Against the backdrop of glamourous 1969 Hollywood where the Manson Family lurks, the boys find no shortage of hijinks to dive into. 

Unfortunately, the delightful Margot Robbie is squandered in this movie. She portrays Sharon Tate, the most notable victim of the infamous Tate murders. With almost no dialogue, she is mostly shown bumbling around town living her carefree life until her character is summoned to contribute.

Although enchanted by the bromance I didn’t know the world needed, I was constantly wondering how it would all come together. At the time, the lack of any apparent storyline or conflict was almost upsetting for me. The parallel plotlines didn’t have anything to do with each other… until they did. Although Rick and Cliff’s misadventures have little bearing on the plot, they are more than enough to entertain for the first two acts, until the third when everything suddenly converges and the movie goes full Tarantino mode. 

The final halfhour is astounding; it’s some of Tarantino’s best work ever. I don’t remember blinking once. Once I realized the profundity of the climax, all the problems I had with the rest of the film melted away. All the loose connections, pointless events, and unanswered questions no longer mattered as I realized what they had all been building up to. I was relieved to finally discover that all my doubts about my favourite director were false. It’s easy to see how the ending will divide people in terms of its acceptability and impact, but I personally think it will go down as one of the most brilliant film endings of all time. 

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