Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
(USA, 18, 2hrs 39mins)
A dazzling black comedy thriller that manages to create a meta-fictional 1969 Hollywood, folding in the horrors of the Manson murders aside a story about an actor and stuntman on their uppers. Tarantino’s 9th film (10th, if we’re refusing the acknowledge his pettiness in calling Kill Bill Vol. 1 + 2 as one film) is one to savour for its chutzpah.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as washed-up film actor Rick Dalton, with Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth his stunt double. DiCaprio channels the hysterical rage of the failing actor to great comic effect, whilst Pitt is laid-back but deadly, with grisly secrets in his past.
We find Dalton’s own TV Western series has been cancelled and he’s left playing a baddie in another upcoming star’s cowboy vehicle. He finds solace however in knowing that his next door neighbours are Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and Sharon Tate (an engaging Margot Robbie), people he admires.
Tarantino allows us to get to know his characters in some depth, ratcheting up tension amidst the sparkling banter between DiCaprio and Pitt. Booth ends up giving a hitchhiking girl a lift to Spahn Ranch, the headquarters of the Manson family, gearing up to go on their killing spree.
Always audacious and with a brilliant soundtrack (obviously) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is full of affection for films and film-making, studded with stars and winning moments. Pitt gets a showdown with Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), DiCaprio confides in sassy eight-year-old child star (Julia Butters) to hilarious effect, whilst Al Pacino brilliantly chews the scenery as DiCaprio’s agent, advising him to get into spaghetti westerns. Bruce Dern, Damian Lewis, Luke Perry and Kurt Russell all get cameos as Tarantino weaves them into a layered Hollywood world that bewitches, grips and chills, shot through with film references and violence. Tarantino’s most satisfying film since Kill Bill.
Out now in cinemas
words Keiron Self