Ilinca E.’s review published on Letterboxd:
I will always look forward to a new Quentin Tarantino movie, and in a time of money-grabbing remakes and sequels dominating the box office, the anticipation for Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood was particularly strong.
My initial impression was “okay... but where is this going?” The film’s 2h41 runtime dragged on in what felt like a series of slightly disjointed episodes, some more interesting than others. This is not a problem in and of itself, especially given Di Caprio and Pitt’s chemistry and performances, Robbie’s contagious aura and pure magnetism, and just the entire depiction of the world of 1969 Los Angeles & Hollywood. However, I couldn’t help but think that film lacked a special thread and the usual Tarantino signature pizzazz.
Also, the decision to frame the movie around Sharon Tate wasn’t immediately obvious to me, and by the end it got me thinking even more. For those who criticize her lack of lines and her representation as a symbol more so than a person, I see it. I also see the counter argument that would state that ultimately, this movie is about Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth’s relationship and that era in Hollywood. However, if that is in fact the case, I can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable at the idea that we would take Sharon Tate’s murder as a simple element to help frame the narrative. Without giving anything away, utimately Tarantino’s intentions are good - but there’s still a little looming feeling of insensitivity and melancholy (although the latter is most likely intentional).
Overall, I’m giving this a 3 1/2 because of fun performances & cameos, some really fantastic scenes and Tarantino’s ability to immerse me in an alternate reality of another time while giving me a good starting point for many reflections to come. Some stars deducted for when the film seemed to get lost in its own antics and when it kind of failed to keep me invested in seeing where it would all go.