Quentin Tarantino loves cinema, there is absolutely no denying that. With that being said, there was probably no one better suited to making a film such as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood than him, with its sun-soaked framing of Los Angeles and array of colourful characters serving as an ode to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

It's 1969 and faded Hollywood actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), along with his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), find themselves struggling to find fame and stay relevant amidst the end of Hollywood's Golden Age.
Plenty has been made of the narrative choices and how prominent a role Margot Robbie has to play in the film prior to its release but I feel these people have missed the idea of the film and just need something to post about to keep hits coming on their sites. Tarantino has made a love letter to an era of Hollywood that majorly inspired him, and Robbie's role, as with others throughout the film, have a small part to play in a much bigger tapestry. More on that later though.

The main focus here is Dalton and Booth, both on their friendship and their desire to keep working amidst an ever-changing Hollywood landscape. It feels a little restrained for a Tarantino film however, that only makes it a more interesting and personal piece of work from the eccentric filmmaker. Because of that, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood becomes one of his most emotional films to date, the journey Dalton goes on in particular driving the film forward to one hell of a finale, bringing the violence you'd expect in a Tarantino film.

The restraint shown in places doesn't mean this doesn't feel like a Tarantino film at all, the exquisite cinematography from Robert Richardson sweeping between Hollywood sets and lavish lifestyles. There is of course intricate details in the production design that Tarantino just wouldn't make a film without, as with the costume designs, and the choice of music for the soundtrack is so on-point that Hollywood in the late 60s really is brought to life in fantastic fashion.
Coming to the performances, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is led by two great performances from two accomplished actors in Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. There's a number of scenes where the two just hang out together and, thanks to their dynamic chemistry and well-written dialogue, I could have spent hours on end in their company. DiCaprio is utterly brilliant in the role of Dalton, a man so scared of being forgotten and left behind, while Pitt shines as Booth, both men having worked with Tarantino before so effectively.

There's a whole host of supporting characters and cameos throughout, some coming in anecdotal flashbacks, that some may see as over-indulgence from Tarantino but I felt it kept the ball rolling on quite a long film. Margot Robbie has the most prominent appearance of all the supporting characters and, while her Sharon Tate is used very sparingly, Robbie certainly makes a lasting impression, her undeniable screen presence lighting up the film.

It's by no means his best film however, Quentin Tarantino has made another film in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that will be regarded as a classic in the years to come. Some have said it's far too long for the story it's trying to tell but I'd happily spend more time in this world with these characters.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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