Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a solid but surprising addition to director Quentin Tarantino’s unique filmography, a languid and relaxed piece that serves as a setback to the filmmaker’s lifelong obsessions, and ends with one of the most controversial sequences of his career. .

Despite being completely prepared for what was in the store, I was surprised by the amount of surprises that Tarantino had in the store. There is none of the round-trip dialogues that the filmmaker is known for; Conversations, on the other hand, are as sleepy as the summer atmosphere of the film, which takes place during a period of great turmoil in Hollywood, around 1969.

Don’t get me wrong, your characters are still partial to a long chin guard, but in a less aggressive and more internalized way, perhaps a sign that Tarantino, like movie star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), is maturing. with age

Dalton is one of the best creations of the filmmaker, a character on which Tarantino has projected part of his own seriousness. He is pathetic without ever looking weak; Selfish without appearing self-centered, and I was surprised how funny it is. Rick was one of Hollywood’s most famous television stars a few years ago, but he was never able to transition to a career in film. This is a matter of grave concern for him.

The only reason the city still takes it seriously, he tells his partner and double specialist Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), is because he heard some solid advice when he was starting and bought his own house in Hollywood Hills. Instead of renting an apartment “It means you’re here to stay, and you’re not just moving,” Rick tells Cliff one night, and Pat receives Cliff’s standard response: a smile and a gesture of recognition.

Cliff is a man of few words. He is “more than a brother” to Rick, “but less than a wife,” the narrator informs us (expressed by the usual Kurt Russell of Tarantino). Its dynamics is no different from that of a married couple. He never explains why he got caught by Rick: he rarely performs more stunts for him, and instead he is more a driver, but he has his own skeletons. It is said that he was involved in the death of his wife. It really seems that neither Rick nor Cliff have anyone but themselves in the world.

Then, when the most popular director in the business, Roman Polanski, moves to the house next door with his wife, actor Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), Rick sees it as a signal from above; as if the universe was conspiring to ensure he has a career.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood movie review

Ironically for a movie about movies, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is much less kind to historical figures than to fictional characters like Rick and Cliff.

Assuming that his murder at the hands of the Manson family would be an important part of the movie, every time he appears on the screen he seems to be growing towards her, I was surprised at how little Sharon Tate has to do in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Honestly, except for DiCaprio and Pitt, everyone else in the extensive cast of the movie is basically making a cameo. This only shows how desperate the actors are to work with the legendary filmmaker; It’s the kind of attraction that only Martin Scorsese has these days, and what Woody Allen used to enjoy until very recently.

But Sharon Tate is not the only real-life figure that Tarantino harms; His interpretation of Bruce Lee is disconcertingly mean. I read recently that if it hadn’t been for a very worried Brad Pitt, it would have been worse. It’s almost as if Tarantino had a personal ax to press against the late screen icon. I wonder what it could be.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the first Tarantino movie since Jackie Brown, I think, that has not been divided into chapters. But its structure is as episodic as its other films. A long sequence in which a child actor sends Rick to an existential crisis is hilarious, and possibly will play in a loop when DiCaprio is inevitably nominated for an Oscar. Another, in which Cliff visits the Spahn Ranch, where Charles Manson and his family have established a camp, is headed as a Western Spaghetti.

However, the film is also the victim of some of Tarantino’s annoying excesses and self-imposed rules. Tarantino has been convinced that the duration of a movie is directly proportional to its quality. As anyone who has seen City Lights (a breeze at 87 minutes) and High Noon (even more cheerful at 85) would tell you, this is simply not true. Once upon a time …, like The Hateful Eight and Django Unchained, they could have easily reduced a few minutes from their 161-minute runtime, especially because it has a sinuous structure.

There has been talk of Once Upon a Time … reissued in a four-hour miniseries for Netflix, when the time comes for it to be released on home video and broadcast. I imagine it would be a more pleasant experience.

As fun as it was to see a group of Jewish mercenaries massacre Hitler and his Nazis in Inglourious Basterds, or see a black slave annihilate his white oppressors in Django Unchained, Tarantino’s revisionist streak will surely divide audiences this time. . Personally, he was on board with the outbreak of his characteristic graphic violence towards the end, but once again, his determined obsession to put his female characters in hell cannot help feeling a little tired. Times have changed, I wish he would have done it too.

If Tarantino is to be believed, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is his penultimate film. To end with a truly subversive note, I could suggest that for his final film, Tarantino directs a small romantic comedy set in a French vineyard or something. In any case, it would give you an excuse to really get close to your feet while you trample the grapes.

But we already know how the life of the actress was tragically truncated, while she was eight and a half months pregnant, at the hands of the “followers” of the cult leader Charles Manson. Then, naturally, we spent a good part of the movie waiting to see how Tarantino will conclude things. I am not going to ruin anything on that front, except to say that it is outrageous, unpredictable and strangely satisfying.

But despite everything that happens, the pace of the movie is problematic. You will feel especially restless in the first hour, where very little really happens. There is a small plot, but sometimes it seems that Tarantino has simply put together a collection of entertaining scenes and moments that feel complete in themselves, but never key in the plot of the story.

In addition, the film has many references (and I want to say many!) To old movies and television shows that the filmmaker presumably loves. We have long scenes of movies within the movie, which are ultimately tiring, since they amount to little more than Tarantino pleasing his internal geek.

However, all said and done, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is a violent Valentine’s Day, often fun, but always sincere at a specific time and place. Robert Richardson’s ingenious photography, evocative production design and fleeting appearances of legendary characters of the day transport you to a bygone era of Hollywood glamor that is hard to resist. The movie may not be the best of Tarantino, but it is a relaxed and change of pace offer that offers many unexpected pleasures.

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