Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

For the last decade, Tarantino has been crafting myths; which is, to say, pure fantasies that address a societal deficit that can only be cathartically addressed through fiction. While the filmmaker remains as brutal and controversial as ever in this late stage of his career, his brutality has been aimed squarely at those who have caused irreparable damage to others. Tarantino’s myths occupy an eternally comforting place, free of complicated legal and ethical approaches to prejudice and brutality. Audiences are regularly given simple and carnal solutions to painful problems in the service of satisfying make believe. Nazis and slave owners die spectacularly because they deserve it. There is no need to question the fantasy. 

Personal appreciation of Tarantino’s bullshitting may vary. I think there is legitimate cause to criticize the simplistic responses to serious issues that the filmmaker presents as a kind of gleeful retribution. While I personally revel in the obvious fantasies of Tarantino’s last few films, I can fully understand why many would not appreciate them.

However, for the first time in this stage of his career, Tarantino’s mythmaking accomplshes something that stretches beyond the carnal: recoding the image of Sharon Tate. Tate’s film career was plagued with type casting. Tate’s death transformed her from c-lister to eternal victim. By dedicating so much time to her and ultimately allowing her to live at the end of the film, we can imagine the ambitious young actress growing into the star that she would have undoubtedly reached had she not been senselessly butchered by the Manson family. Those who stand in her way are given the brutal and remorseless treatment that they would have enacted on Tate if circumstances had gone the way they had in reality. In Tarantino’s mythic universe, Tate can live the life she deserved.

I’ve said nothing about the expert cinematography and the achingly personal central narrative. Perhaps I will later. I’m just overwhelmed and in love with this work of humanely brutal wish fulfillment. 

Long live Sharon Tate.

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