Film Review: Once Upon a Hollywood

09:00 July 26, 2019
By: David Vicari

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Hollywood is like nothing Tarantino has done before. It's not an action/revenge flick like Kill Bill or Django Unchained, but rather a dramatic fantasy that is often very funny and even a little touching. Ultimately, it's a love letter to the days of Hollywood past.

It's 1969 and Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a has-been television star. Dalton and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), look for roles, but all Dalton is offered are guest starring roles as a villain.

Another character in the movie is actress Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie. Tate was a real-life person who, along with several friends, was tragically murdered by followers of Charles Manson. The Manson family does figure into the plot of Hollywood, but with fictional characters like Dalton and Booth in the mix, don't expect a true crime biography.

Hollywood doesn't find its footing right away, but stay with it. Tarantino presents Hollywood of 1969 in such detail that you can smell it. The film really transports you to another time. And then there are those wonderful vignettes surrounding Dalton and Booth - like Booth's tussle with Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), or Dalton's chat with an 8-year-old actress (Julia Butters) on the set of a television western. With Once Upon a Hollywood Tarantino has created a vivid recreation of the past with well-drawn characters that culminates to a crowd-pleaser of a finale.

★★★ ½ (out of four)

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