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.

This is the first Tarantino film where I can imagine Tarantino the director as an adult. So many of his movies are about exploring his geeky passions and finding new, often extremely fun ways to explore the genres he loves and tell the stories in which every character is some aspect of himself, sometimes detrimentally so, especially in his earlier features when literally every character could sound the same. And not that earlier films didn't have characters dealing with their obsolescence, mortality or both but it's so acutely felt here that it permeates nearly every scene of this movie. Whether it's the personal travails of DiCaprio's aging, getting less relevant movie star or the general distrust towards the upstart youth, most symbolized by the Manson family with its cast of literal starlets, this theme of nostalgia is so richly explored and layered that I am positive I didn't get all the nuances just from this one watch.

The movie is definitely a love letter that is colored deeply with nostalgia yet does not ignore the dark undercurrent of this time. It could be interpreted as Tarantino's raging against the dying of the light of a past era that he helped form but is no longer the main zeitgeist influencer of. I appreciated that, contrary to what critics have said, I think Margot Robbie is very well-served, and her character Sharon Tate, who is lovely perfection and perhaps the purest in her love for performance and making people around her happy. Her scene in the movie theater is one of the best scenes of the year, and I am glad that she gets a chance to be seen as someone other than a victim, as history has painted her to be.

I don't really know how to feel about the ending. On one hand, it was gratifying to see him rewrite history and subject the evil bastards to Old Testament levels of retribution. On the other hand, it seemed like an easy way out, a way of not really confronting the problems that caused people like Manson to flourish. I could kind of persuaded one way or the other. Overall, it's not a perfect picture, but it's the most personal and lovingly crafted that I've seen from Tarantino in a long time.