Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – Substance Over Style

WARNING: NO SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

There is a bittersweet feeling while watching Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and its not because of what’s happening on screen. It is when you realize that Tarantino has only one film left in his self-imposed ten film rule. But getting back to the screen, it is genuinely fun to see QT play with the audience so much. He pulls back when we expect him to go full throttle and vice-versa. There are moments that are laced with his trademark humor. He shows that there are few better than him when it comes to selecting a soundtrack. It is one of the many ways he evokes the era. And the incredible song choices which began with “Stuck in the Middle With You” in Reservoir Dogs is present here. One such example is him using the Simon & Garfunkel classic “Mrs. Robinson” for the first time Brad Pitt comes across Margaret Qualley. An ironic way to describe these two characters and only something that QT could have thought of.

You will find many people will go into this film expecting a typical Tarantino film but that is not the case here. What we get is a different version of the director as he is able to focus less on style and more on substance. He does this by focusing heavily on the characters that populate the screen. We do get the trademarks of QT – the violence, the cracking dialogue etc. but it doesn’t ratchet up the way we expect it to. This works better in this setting for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is more about the feel of a place than it’s story.

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And now we come to the film’s biggest draw, the cast. When you have so many heavyweights in one film you expect fireworks and they deliver big time. It was so wonderful to see all the cameos popping up on screen. But the film ultimately belongs to the two leading men. They light up every scene they appear in and both bring out the best in them. You might be wondering if there’s an actor cooler than Brad Pitt today? Man has so much swagger it is almost unfair on the rest of us mere mortals.

A lot of QT films show off their flair visually and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is no different. Robert Richardson showcases LA in the late 60s with such precision that it almost feels like we are there. I don’t know how much of the city was digitally altered to make it work but my god it works beautifully. Would I recommend this film to people who aren’t really fans of QT? Yes, I would. Is it a quintessential QT film ? Not really but that is just him evolving as a film maker. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is a like a stick of dynamite with a really long fuse. It takes time to explode but once it does, it is truly magnificent. Please don’t stop after 10 films QT – Sincerely, a big fan.

Until next time, bye.

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