Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Review: Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) was once the star of a hit TV series in the 50’s but now faces his gradual decline in the unpredictable showbiz industry. Meanwhile, his stunt double and buddy Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) has become dependent on Dalton to make a living as his driver. Dalton’s neighbours happen to be French-Polish director Roman Polanski and his wife – the actress Sharon Tate, both at the peak of their careers. This ninth film by Quentin Tarantino explores these characters and their careers in the golden age of Hollywood.
Most of the film serves as an ode to Hollywood and the classic era of television and movies. It often comes across as indulgent; as if Tarantino is merely focused on showcasing his directorial skills, rather than telling a complete story. But he’s able to create such compelling characters with immersive journeys that it eventually doesn’t matter if many scenes could have edited out without any impact on the narrative. Despite their eventual relevance, it’s impossible to imagine the film without them. So, there are a lot of instances when the film will test your patience, and make you wonder – ‘where is this all going?’ Thankfully, the director doesn’t hold back in the climax and allows pieces of the puzzle to come together in a spectacular finish.
There are a lot of creative liberties, so don’t look for historical accuracy –this film is above and beyond that. It is a nostalgic tribute to the Hollywood of old. The production design and cinematography are memorable, with the former transporting you to that era and the latter giving you sweeping vistas of 60’s L.A. and its sprawling mansions. The camera follows all the action and accentuates every little detail of the characters and their emotions, which is essential because both Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are incredible to watch. DiCaprio is especially a treat while displaying Dalton’s insecurities and how vulnerable his starry ego has become over the years. The scenes of DiCaprio shooting the pilot of a show are a testament to his acting calibre. There are no weak links in the rest of this cast either. The characters by Margot Robbie, Al Pacino & Kurt Russell also make their presence felt. But love him or hate him, this is Tarantino in his element and ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ proves, yet again, that there’s no other cinematic storyteller quite like him.