Release Date: July 26, 2019
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Bona Film Group, Heyday Films, Visiona Romantica
The 9th film from Quentin Tarantino is a love letter the industry. Okay, most of his movies are that, you’re right, but this one here is the most overt, setting the action in the streets, homes, and sets of Hollywood.
Our heroes: Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) an actor on the verge of washing out, famous for his roles in Western TV of the 1950s, along with his right hand man/driver/handyman/best friend Cliff Booth (played perfectly by Brad Pitt) are navigating their lives in an industry that seems done with them. Meanwhile, Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) is a rising star, we see her glamorous home, her life, the movies she’s in. They are characters on opposite trajectories but where do they intersect…
The real heart of the movie, and focus of the majority of the film is the friendship between Booth and Dalton. They have worked together for years, despite their flaws or missteps (Booth has a mysterious past and is tough to work with, Dalton has a bit of a drinking problem) they are together. Booth happy to help Dalton wherever he can, just happy to be around and a part of it. Margot Robbie’s Tate meanwhile shows us the awe and joy of someone just entering the industry, still excited by the potential of it all. At one point we follow her into a theater for her to watch her newest film with an audience. She sits, feet kicked up (in stereotypical Tarantino fashion – for better or grosser) and basks in the emotion of the audience, their cheers and laughs at the film.
While Dalton is taking on acting gigs, hoping to revitalize his career, Booth is working on his house, driving around L.A. and crossing paths with the Manson Family. It is the bumping up of our characters with this timeline, this burning fuse we know the outcome of that generates the tension throughout. This web of story expands and contracts in an explosive, if predictable, conclusion. But the movie isn’t about the end, it’s about that relationship between Dalton and Booth, which DiCaprio and Pitt sell amazingly.
The robust run time of 161 minutes moves at a surprising clip, cutting from the current action to various past roles, allowing for a number of good laughs and letting Tarantino dip his toes in other genres, from his recent favorite Westerns to war movies. In creating these fictional characters and meshing them into the history (editing Leonardo DiCaprio into footage of famous films of the past – that he just missed out on the role, naturally) the movie transports us to the time, to experience the sun bathed streets of LA and the people who lived there.
Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood is Tarantino’s best flick in years, and if you are at all a fan of movies, the bygone era of a ‘Golden’ Age, or a solid friendship you will love it too.