This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Sara Clements’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
A summer of love that never died.
There has been a lot of discourse surrounding Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's ending so I wanted to start this review by discussing my feelings about it.
Simply, it was cathartic. So much so because I've had dreams like it. Vivid dreams of saving Sharon Tate and her friends. I'm not a violent person, but oftentimes those dreams involved me killing the murderers (not in the same imaginative ways but). In the film's climax, I saw my feelings of anger projected onto the screen. They deserved that ending. Does it make me sick because I enjoyed seeing the death of a woman who said “Look, bitch, I don’t care a thing about you” before stabbing a pregnant woman to death? I don't know...maybe. But more often than not life is cruel to those who don't deserve it and life is kind to those who don't deserve it. So I have no shame in saying I loved this fairytale ending. An ending that took a wrong and made it right.
I understand people are angry because they feel that Tarantino's anger should have been directed at the male mastermind and not the women (but also Tex was there so Tarantino was brutal to a man, too). Sure, Tarantino can be over the top when it comes to violence and is guilty of using the death of women as a punch line, but to act like Manson's followers were victims doesn’t make any sense to me. They could think for themselves. We see that with Maya Hawke as Linda. She knew what they were going to do was wrong and she chose to drive away.
I guess it’s just easier for me to enjoy this kind of violence because of how much Sharon means to me. I don’t talk about her very much but she’s been a big part of my life for ten years now. I remember the first time I saw her was in 2009 on an episode of Larry King. It was an episode remembering her death, so the fact that Tarantino celebrates her life and lets it continue was emotional for me and the perfect end. Margot was perfect, too, and had the right amount of lines for a character who was soft-spoken and often shy. The story surrounding her was my favourite part of the film. I really liked Brad Pitt’s scenes, too, but hate to admit that I got really bored of all the Rick Dalton cowboy stuff. But will Leo get an Oscar nom for throwing a tantrum in his trailer? Absolutely.
Some things I didn't like before I dive into more things I enjoyed: I didn't like Bruce Lee's portrayal at all. As his daughter said, they made him look like an asshole which he wasn't (according to her). I felt they made him into a joke honestly. Like there's no way a white man could beat him in a fight. The logic? Where is it? Also, who let Lena Dunham onto the set.
Positives!! I didn't mind that this didn't really have a plot because I like the feeling of just getting to hang out with fictional or non-fictional characters for however how many minutes. Tarantino calling out Robert Wagner was also extremely satisfying; the glorious neon lights of 1969 Los Angeles on full display; the sheer adoration Tarantino has for cinema and the era was almost tangible; and I fucking love when they put modern actors in old footage, movies, shows etc.
I'm not Tarantino's biggest fan, and the fact that he had to be the one to give Sharon Tate justice kind of sucks, but I loved experiencing what could have been and living in his 1969 Los Angeles.