Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is a polarizing statement about the state of film, and an ode to what was.
It will be hard to review this film without a large amount of inflated superlatives, because to be frank, it’s just that good. With that said, here goes my best attempt:
The film kicks off in Hollywood Hills in February 1969, the city’s Golden Age. We are quickly introduced to Rick Dalton a fading TV star played by Leonardo DiCaprio and his stunt double Cliff Booth played by Brad Pitt. Rick is working on multiple cameos on other roles and constantly questioning his stardom, while Cliff is his loyal friend who he pays to drive him around. Cliff is an easy going and humble guy who contrasts the egotistical and high strung TV star Rick Dalton.
While we focus on the clusterf**k that is Rick’s career as he comes to grip with himself and his has-been role as his on-screen persona Jake Cahill, a western bounty hunter, we are also introduced to his neighbor Roman Polanski and more so his wife Sharon Tate played by Margot Robbie.
This is where the lines of reality and fiction begin to blur, as you should know those names and characters are rooted in the true drama of that time.
Roman Polanski is off in Europe and Sharon Tate is just soaking up the good life with a career about to take off and her closest friends staying in the house with her. And as we get a look at the comings and goings of the falling and rising stars that are Rick and Sharon neither one ever interacting we are also introduced to Manson’s hippy cult girls who were peppered all across Hollywood at the time.
As Cliff is enticed by an especially free-spirited hippy girl known as Pussycat, he involves himself involuntarily in the maniacal happenings of their group.
These three plots all intertwine into a surefire masterpiece.
Tarantino truly encapsulated something great in this film. From the bold statements about how things used to be to the long list of all-star actors, Kurt Russell, Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning just to name a few, this film has it all.
Tarantino took the era by the hair, forced it to look in the mirror while tripping balls and left us all wondering what if?