BEIRUT: Director Quentin Tarantino, one of Hollywood’s most eclectic and critically acclaimed directors, released his ninth film, and his second to last film, this week – a film that unites two of today’s greatest stars, Brad Pitt and Leonardo Dicaprio, in a first-ever pairing and recreating an entire lost era.
Loud, bold, and completely larger than life, this is big cinema made for the big screen.
Set in 1969, Tarantino recreates the time when the United States, the city of Los Angeles, the Hollywood star system, even the movies themselves were at an inflection point, and no one knew where the pieces would land – an echo of the changes buffeting Hollywood today.
There is no doubt that Quentin Tarantino has continued to evolve and to surprise audiences.
While Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has all of the hallmarks of a Tarantino film: a wholly original story, fresh characters, presented with exceptional technique, it also breaks new ground for the writer-director.
Structurally, the film’s narrative is quite simple – three rich days in the lives of the characters as they move about Los Angeles, and the conflict of the story builds each day until it reaches a tipping point worthy of a Tarantino film.
Nevertheless, it is the smart, and unforgiving Tarantino dialogue that is the film’s true MVP.
Ensuring that no line is wasted, Tarantino infuses the screenplay with some of the greatest character beats, and monologues that we haven’t seen in a long time.
Every frame, every camera movement, every element in this film has resonance and purpose.
And let’s not forget about the cast, however, who all give it their all and the passion behind the film shows.
At the center is Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Rick had been the star of “Bounty Law,” a hit television series in the 50s and early 60s, but his prophesied transition to motion picture stardom never materialized.
Now, as Hollywood moves towards a hippie aesthetic, Rick worries that his time has passed and wonders if there’s still a chance for him.
One the other side of the coin is Cliff Booth, a former war hero, now Rick’s stunt double, played by Brad Pitt.
As their careers have evolved and their struggles increased, the one constant for them has been each other. Cliff has proven his loyalty to Rick over and over again, and vice versa – they are the only true family that either has.
Surrounding DiCaprio and Pitt on Rick and Cliff’s journey are a mix of real and fictional characters played by some of today’s most acclaimed actors.
Al Pacino plays Marvin Schwarzs, an emeritus agent selling the virtues of Italian westerns, Kurt Russell, a stunt coordinator named Randy, Dakota Fanning plays the Manson family member Squeaky, and Margot Robbie as glamorous Sharon Tate, the idealized ingenue married to the hottest director in LA - Roman Polanski, who just happens to be Rick’s neighbor.
This is a character-driven story, dealing with mature issues of unfulfilled expectations that inevitably confront us all as we age and in Hollywood, this struggle is particularly dramatic, as success and failure live side by side.
The film has quite an emotional melancholy to it, and this is partly due to the true visualization of nostalgia.
At its core, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a love-letter to a bygone Hollywood, and a tender story about friendship, success, and failure, and it has a great soundtrack to boot.
The film is playing in cinemas across Lebanon, catch it on the largest screen at VOX Cinemas.
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