Review – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Tarantino is on fine form with his sun-drenched fairytale about the ruthless city of angels in a time of glamour and terror.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood will probably catch you off guard but in a good way, being instantly recognisable as a Tarantino movie with some unexpected streaks; all of which makes it easily one of his best.

From the very start it is clear OUATIH isn’t the violent drama about the Manson Family initial headlines suggested it might be, and this is something to be thankful for.

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Instead Tarantino presents to us an entertaining story which captures 1969 Los Angeles blending fact and fiction – the struggles of Hollywood, the joys of fame and the crime brewing in the city.

At the heart of the film is the duo Rick Dalton and his stuntman Cliff Booth, played by the fantastic Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt who are both on fire throughout.

In many ways the electric dynamic between has-been Dalton and never-was Booth makes OUATIH feel like a buddy comedy, and you will be laughing throughout at their quirky characteristics and one liners.

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They truly drive the energy of the film and being in their company is thoroughly enjoyable, helping make the nearly three-hour-long run-time fly by.

But it isn’t all cocktails, fun and laughter with the pair, as their stories are melancholic and most importantly human.

While DiCaprio and Pitt do have a riot with their bizarre characters they are also sincere, leaving us feeling for the pair as they battle to stay relevant.

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Rick and Cliff are tackled in a sensitive and heartfelt manner, and the same can be said for Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate.

There has been much said about both Robbie’s casting as Tate and the little dialogue she is given, but I didn’t find any part of the character problematic.

Rather than remembering Tate as a victim of a brutal murder, OUATIH honours her work in movies such as The Wrecking Crew and celebrates her joy at becoming a rising star.

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Robbie’s Tate shines brightly as she goes to the cinema to watch her latest film, dances at the Playboy Mansion and spends time with her friends.

Her beaming smile and charisma is infectious, and it is clear both Tarantino and Robbie have a lot of affection for the character making her rewardingly well-rounded.

As Tate boogies away to groovy records and Dalton drinks whisky sour after whisky sour, there is also something sinister going on adding a level of tension to the film.

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Enter the Manson Family. While Charles Manson himself is barely seen on screen, his cult do regularly feature, and every time they appear on the screen we are overcome with a sense of dread.

Often though our encounters with the Manson cult head in unexpected directions, especially in the exhilarating finale which is played out in a beautifully bonkers way.

Most importantly the violence in OUATIH is never glorified, and Tarantino even invites us to discuss cinema’s fascination with violent crime, a debate he is so often at the centre of.

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At points OUATIH can be meandering and it doesn’t come together as tightly as it could have done, but it is undoubtedly yet another Tarantino triumph being also perhaps his most personal film to date as it’s about an industry he so clearly adores.

Melancholic, sweet and mature, OUATIH is also brutal and shocking when it needs to be, with Pitt and DiCaprio’s hilarious double-act also providing the laughs throughout.

With gorgoeus cinematography and a banging soundtrack, OUATIH is a nostalgic trip through the final golden years of Hollywood which is worth the ride.

P.S. In true Tarantino style, also expect plenty, and I mean plenty, of feet.


Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is in Movie Theatres now!

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Emily Murray

Emily Murray


Emily is a journalist and film critic who unashamedly cries at most movies having got too emotionally attached. When not at the cinema, she is at home cuddling her cat Holmes, whilst binge watching New Girl. Twitter: @emilyvmurray