John Bergstrom’s review published on Letterboxd:
A love letter to cinema; the culmination of everything Tarantino has done thus far in the industry and the wisdom he’s discovered. It’s everything I hoped for and more—unpredictable, humorous, violent, smart, and it even cures every, known and unknown, human disease while it’s at it.
Taratino was not lying when he said this was his closest film to the beloved Pulp Fiction, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a character study, the audience gets to walk in the shoes of these three characters (played expertly and charismatically from three of Hollywood’s brightest stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie). Tarantino guides us through a day in the life—more accurately, two(ish) days in three lives—and it’s a thrilling joyride. Everything about this film exceeded my, fairly high, expectations, and I say that with the greatest smile upon my face. This film combines the funky exploitation style from Tarantino’s early works with the more mainstream charismatic appeal from his recent cinematic achievements.
While this isn’t Tarantino’s last film (a very welcome point), it certainly feels like it is, and it would definitely be a fitting send off. There are so many actors from Tarantino’s history (it’d probably be easier, and shorter, to list off the newcomers), a subtle blend of his iconic styles, a killer soundtrack, and true heart and passion at the core of it all. My thoughts are all over the place at the moment (that will hopefully be improved with countless rewatches, which this movie seems to invite), but I loved everything about it.
Leo gives another emotional, soulful performance, after taking a slight hiatus, as a fading character actor falling into the ruins, being left behind by a changing time; Pitt, charismatic as ever, plays the carefree blend of the new and old times, never quite fitting in with his acting partner, but not being entirely dissimilar either; finally Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate shows us the bright and up-and-coming new generation, shining in every scene. These three costars steal every single scene, but everyone in this A-list cast shines at one point or another. Special shoutout to Mike Moh, Julia Butters, and Margaret Qualley for being absolutely spectacular every time they were on screen, in each varied regard. The scenes between Butters and Leo are probably some of the best in the movie.
Obviously I can’t get through this review without mentioning Robert Richardson who brings the iconic time in Hollywood to life. While it’s not his most flashy work, it still has its charm and the technical expertise that make this fun to watch.
Genuinely I cannot stop thinking about this film and probably won’t for a long time. It was strange to see big name stars fill such small roles, but I think that’s the exact reaction Tarantino was trying to get across throughout: messing with the preconceived notions of the Hollywood star system. I can’t wait for awards season, assuming Tom Hooper doesn’t upset (in the worst way possible), but I’m more so excited for every inevitable rewatch from this point forward. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is well worth the wait and successfully creates another unique Tarantino-esque story for everyone to find something to enjoy.