Jasmim Bettencourt’s review published on Letterboxd:
1969. New Hollywood. The first man on the moon. The Vietnam War. Protests and riots. Woodstock. The Summer of Love. The Manson Murders. Was there any other more historically significant and iconic year in recent human history? A washed-up television actor, Rick Dalton, and his stunt double, Cliff Booth, try to strive to achieve fame and success in a Hollywood that is changing fast around them. They are relics of the Old Hollywood, the old ways, in a transforming Hollywood, the New Hollywood, a Hollywood of the youth. Passionate, nostalgic for an era gone by, yet also looking at the future: this is how I would describe Quentin Tarantino's grandest film of his career. Beautifully shot, with a masterful control over his craft, with brilliant continuous shots that rise this story into a true epic love letter to the seventh art, it's hard to deny the masterpiece that this film is. Incredible acting, masterfully written dialogues in the way that only Tarantino can do, and a thorough attention to detail, from the set design to the soundtrack (which is beautifully picked, also in the way that only Tarantino can do), we are immersed in this world, almost as if we have time travelled back to 1969, with how masterfully Tarantino constructs his story - this is his story, after all. Despite being nearly 3 hours, you really don't feel the weight of that time, and I even felt disappointed when it ended, I could have sit through countless of hours of Tarantino goodness, which is really what this film is - almost 3 hours of Tarantino goodness. Of course, what contributes to this immersion are the brilliant performances. Leonardo DiCaprio does one of the best performances of his career as this spoiled faded actor that no longer has a place in the changing landscape of Hollywood. Margot Robbie is also incredibly loveable as Sharon Tate, who is an incredibly interesting character that I'm gonna go back to in just a moment. However, the true star of this film is Brad Pitt, who gives a truly fantastic performance that, if there is any justice in this world, will give him his long awaited Oscar. He dominates the screen with such charisma, making his scenes truly memorable (not just *that* scene 😉😉), and making you truly cheer for him when shit goes down in the final act. This is Tarantino in his purest exploitative state, with so many incredibly entertaining and funny scenes, with biting and masterfully-written dialogues that will keep you hooked despite of the length of each scene. Tarantino looks back at this decisive point in film history with a look of nostalgia, and so, it's easy to fall in the mistake that this is a nostalgic look at the grandeur of the Old Hollywood and the end of an era, making this a reflection on the end of an era in modern cinema. However, one mustn't forget that when an era ends, a new one commences, and that is why the character of Sharon Tate is so important. She isn't as much a character, but an idea. She is the underlying and youthful force of a new generation that is coming to change Hollywood and save it - the generation of filmmakers that made some of the greatest masterpieces of cinema, from Easy Rider to The Godfather. While Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a nostalgic look into the past, it's also a hopeful look into the future, at the filmmakers changing cinema for the better in the future. 1969 wasn't just the official ending of the Old Hollywood, it was also the exciting beginning of the New Hollywood, with an invasion of ambitious and naïve new filmmakers with their heads full of fresh ideas in Hollywood. This is why this epic story of cinema ends so open-endedly, almost taking the ground where we stand on from our feet. It's open-ended because, despite being an ending, the story will continue. New films will be made, new masterpieces, new technologies, new techniques. It's an ending, but also a beginning, because that's the way the world is - a constant change, a constant ending and beginning. And that is what Tarantino celebrates here. With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, he says a good bye to an era where he dominated and changed cinema through the story of two washed up men from the Old Hollywood, while welcoming a new era with new young filmmakers that will change cinema, through the promise of a new story that goes beyond his film. This is truly an incredible achievement by one of the greatest of our time. It's entertaining, thought-provoking, dialogue-driven in the most masterful way, with an atmosphere perfectly crafted. A true work of a master, ready to pass down the torch and let fresher voices take his place. This is probably one of the most inspiring films I have ever seen as an aspiring filmmaker, and I truly have to thank Quentin Tarantino for making this most masterful masterpiece. This is most definitely one of the best of the year, and a film that is due to become one of the most iconic of our time. A true work of art.