2 hr. 41 min. | Rated R16 | Graphic violence, drug use, offensive language & sexual material
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, James Marsden, Dakota Fanning
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sees Quentin Tarantino deliver his best in years with a beautifully-realised cinematic odyssey into the Hollywood of yesteryear. At the centre of the story is struggling TV western star Rick Dalton ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) who is trying to revive his fading career in 1969 alongside his stunt double and best friend Cliff Booth ( Brad Pitt ), who himself has something of a dark past. To contrast Rick's struggles, his new next-door neighbours are famous director Roman Polanski and one of Hollywood's brightest rising stars, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie ).
Amidst the bright neon lights and groovy tunes of the late 1960s, the cult of Charles Manson circles proceedings with dark intent.
Tarantino balances what is ultimately a rather chaotic set of storylines, themes, and tones with his usual gleeful aplomb.
The trials and tribulations of Rick Dalton are at once hilarious but also thoroughly human as we follow a man who has chased a dream, tasted some success, and has now fallen down as times have been a-changin'. DiCaprio brings the excellent comedic chops that he last displayed in The Wolf of Wall Street, but always ensures an emotional sincerity to Rick, making a memorable Tarantino hero.
His partner Pitt has perhaps the harder job as the enigmatic Cliff, who despite being outwardly heroic and steadfast, is something of a mystery, but he brings such star quality and magnetism that it is hard to not be swept along with his charisma.
Much has been made of casting Margot Robbie as the ill-fated starlet Sharon Tate, and her role here is very much that of a supporting player on the fringes of the main plot, but Robbie makes Tate a luminous symbol of promise and innocence with her small screentime, ensuring that Tate is a fully-rounded.
Speaking of the Manson Family, the cult does have a major role in the film but not as one would expect. Here they are portrayed by a gang of talented stars acing their small material. In fact, the cast on the whole is populated by huge stars in various cameo roles, with Timothy Olyphant , Luke Perry , Emile Hirsch , Michael Madsen , Bruce Dern , and even the great Al Pacino giving memorable minor turns.
Despite mostly riding on the comedy of the central duo and recreating a lost time in Hollywood history and showing the darker side of the entertainment industry too, Tarantino also offers redemption for multiple characters whilst leaving us marvelling at the nature of cinema and where it can take us. Daily Mirror