REVIEW: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - a rich and deeply layered film, DiCaprio’s chemistry with Pitt is unmistable

PUBLISHED: 10:11 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:10 23 September 2019

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Archant

Quentin Tarantino returns with his ninth feature, this time focusing on Hollywood’s golden era of the late 1960s and following a fading actor and his stunt double as they attempt to recapture past glories.

Quentin Tarantino returns with his ninth feature, this time focusing on Hollywood's golden era of the late 1960s and following a fading actor and his stunt double as they attempt to recapture past glories.

All the while, the ominous shadow of the Manson family lurks in the background.

As usual, Tarantino assembles a stellar cast with Leonardo Dicaprio in the lead role and Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in support. DiCaprio stars as Rick Dalton, an actor famed for his stint on the long running cowboy show Bounty Law.

Now past his peak, he is reduced to special guest villain roles on other shows.

Pitt is Cliff Booth, Dalton's loyal friend and long time stunt double, while Robbie takes on the role of Dalton's glamorous next door neighbour Sharon Tate. A name well known to those familiar with the infamous Manson murders.

As with his World War Two epic Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino mixes fictional characters with real ones and blends them together into his own unique take on history. The film has a meandering narrative which on the surface seems unfocused, but Tarantino takes the time to introduce and develop his characters, meaning the audience is fully invested in their fate.

A master at recreating a period setting, the filmmaker also captures the mood of the late 60s era perfectly.

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DiCaprio is excellent as Dalton, embodying the character's frustration at his increasingly limited career options. While his chemistry with Pitt is unmistakable, creating an endearing and completely believable central friendship between the pair. Robbie also sparkles as Tate - the bubbly up and coming actress with the world at her feet.

However, for audience members aware of her tragic real life demise, there is a palpable sense of dread as the spectre of the Manson family looms large and the reckoning approaches.

The film's shockingly violent finale is sure to divide audiences but it is undoubtedly vintage Tarantino.

There is valid criticism that the sequences from Dalton's TV shows and films are over long and a little indulgent and it's true that a more disciplined approach from the director would have resulted in a much tighter film.

However, that feels like nit picking as the sections in question are still thoroughly enjoyable.

This is a undoubtedly a more mature effort from Tarantino and while it may not win over his detractors, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a rich and deeply layered film which will prove a delight to the filmmaker's army of fans.


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