The release of a new film from the almost inescapable prestige of Quentin Tarantino is never going to result in anything but buzz. The man’s films are no stranger to controversy, and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood is no exception. Tarantino has come under commendable fire for many reasons following the release of the picture, some of it being for aesthetic reasons, whilst there have also been serious concerns raised surrounding how out of touch the esteemed director is with the newfound demand for inclusivity within the film industry.
The easiest thing to notice throughout the film is that when it comes to cinematography, Tarantino truly is worthy of his reputation. The childlike, fairy-tale perception of Los Angeles acts as the perfect antithetical backdrop to the dark themes of the film, perfectly highlighting the almost plastic Hollywood aesthetic that is the focal part of the story overall. This two-dimensional perspective also seeps into the character of Sharon Tate (now infamously played by Margot Robbie). Putting aside the vast amounts of slightly odd shots of her feet, it is almost painful to see Robbie’s now well documented tremendous on-screen talent be reduced to nothing more than embellishing furniture. Perhaps this is an intentional commentary on the objectification of female celebrities in 1960s Hollywood, but regardless, Robbie is wasted on what feels like an eight-line role.
Two people not wasted, however? Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. The former playing an in-the-process-of-becoming-washed-up 1950s superstar, and the latter being his stunt double, confidant, and booze buddy. Both actors excel tremendously throughout, with DiCaprio playing ‘high-strung’ as only he can, while Pitt is the perfect amount of both terrifying and hilarious.
Frustrating moments aside, the film is worth a watch, particularly if you have any interest in the terrifying tale of notorious serial killer Charles Manson and his ‘family’ of murderers. The film can offer a hopeful alternative to the tragic tale of the Tate murders, leading to a quintessential Tarantino scream-worthy final scene thrown in for good measure. But the real beauty of this film is the final, eerie reminder that truly, this exists only ‘In Hollywood’. Something you are told before it even starts, but what you will only truly understand once the credits begin to roll.
Image Credit: Sony Pictures