Once Upon a Time in Hollywood review

Nicholas Solomon

My kind of Summer Blockbuster

Once in a while, a film comes along that is so well executed and purely awesome that you have to tell someone about it, and after that, you want to see it again, again and again. I have only seen it once, but that first viewing is enough for me to recommend director Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” wholeheartedly.

While only incredibly loosely based on the Manson family murders of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski and Steven Parent, and although viewers should do their research about the family and the events at Celio Drive, the real meat of this film is about fading star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stoic stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Their chemistry and relationship is what makes up the majority of this movie, and they may just be my favorite Tarantino duo (and Booth my favorite Tarantino Character). The movie itself describes their relationship best: “More than a brother, but not quite a wife.”

It also stars Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, who is the Laura Palmer/Lynchian muse of the film. Before the film released, it had garnered some negative attention because of her lack of many lines. Her presence in the film is one of those that is always looming even when she isn’t there (again going back to Sheryl Lee’s Laura Palmer). She has a presence, and it is hard to describe it other than to compare it to others. I could go on and on about this cast. Every single one is phenomenal, and there are many cameos in this movie that I do not want to spoil.

Another stellar aspect of the movie is the atmosphere and technical prowess that brings the world to life. It created a Los Angeles that felt so palpable and real and lived-in that it immersed you. It was accomplished spectacularly, and the additional fact that Tarantino still shoots on film instead of digital just gives it an added bit of authenticity that makes this film what it is.

The only problem I have seen on the internet is the lack of plot. Indeed this film meanders. However in my opinion, it did not ruin my enjoyment of this movie one bit. There is just so much that kept me engaged. This is a world you just want to stay in. Oddly, it gives an air of nostalgia to a decade I didn’t live in. The events occur in scenes that are almost dreamlike. 

Overall, I cannot recommend this movie enough. Every now and then a film comes along that you just want to watch over and over again, and it is truly special. It is a lot of things: sincere, hilarious, violent and, most of all, bittersweet. It may not be an objectively perfect movie. It was one of those times where I clapped during a movie, and there were many times when the entire audience was laughing. Tarantino is one of those filmmakers you always drop everything to watch his work, and this one, while both familiar and new, is phenomenal.

Edits by Shelby Hanson, Jessica Galvin, Adam White