Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★½

Like being picked up and set down in the middle of 1960s Hollywood, the experience of watching Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" is completely immersive. Turning and looking in any direction reveals the rhythms, sights, sounds, and smells of a city, a time, and a people touched by sunshine and dying innocence. There are the real, the wished-to-be-real, and the never real vying for attention of those fortunate enough to watch.

Tarantino's ode to bygone Hollywood is more about people-watching than it is conducting a point A to point B narrative. A stuntman shows unwavering loyalty, an actor keeps himself from going to seed, and a starlet illuminates those with whom she comes into contact. Lives collide, adventures are had, and the story keeps on moving to a lusciously curated soundtrack.

The focus of the narrative is characters played by actors at the top of their games. Creating fully-fleshed humans of movieland types and archetypes are Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie. Spouting dialogue that, for Tarantino, is happily muted, each actor communicates a soul that is memorable and evocative.

The type of film where every corner and every costume reveal period detail, the drama is sumptuously designed. Eye-catching and nearly breathtaking, the colors, textures, and neon light of the film tell their own stories.

Using real-life figures occupying known spaces and invented avatars standing in for Hollywood types, Tarantino composes a film that, for him, is subdued, but, also for him, is as personal as can be. His "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood," with its fine performances, riveting construction, and suntanned beating heart, is a joy to experience.

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