Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This is essentially a hang out movie as we lounge around town with Leo and Brad, except it's a little too structured and way too long, so it never really lives in that languidity that so many hangout movies strive for. And what we get is an overblown, meandering, excessive piece of sentimental filmmaking about the insecurities that come with being in Hollywood and the friend you need to have your back along the way. And then it simultaneously wants to immortalize the essence of Sharon Tate, and the promise of her existence, so Tarantino creates this character of Sharon who feels more like a memory than a person, and Margot Robbie adds flesh and bone to the role, when in the writing the character feels very pure and innocent. Almost childlike in some respects, and as we move towards that fateful night where history turns sadistik and violent, Tarantino preserves that innocence by having the Manson family invade the house next door, and get brutalized and murdered in a very slapstick-y comedic fashion, and I wont lie, seeing Brad Pitt, high out of his mind, kill these people in gory detail was thrilling and hilarious. Leo DiCaprio using a flame thrower to burn one of them alive was viscerally entertaining. But I cant help but think about the idea that to preserve the promise of Sharon Tate and her innocence within the context of this narrative, Tarantino stripped Tate of her agency within her own tragedy, and theres something about that that bugs me.

Lupe Fiasco has two songs where he basically takes the tragic deaths of two children. and imagines a world where those tragedies never happened (Alan Forever and Jonylah Forever). And he breathes life into these young kids and defines them by creating the life that they never got to live. And each song ends with them saving the life of a kid who were facing the same fate as them, and then the songs and with Lupe rapping that you didnt even know that you saved yourself. It is this haunting piece of music that simultaneously inspires hope while being entrenched in tragedy. I think this movie needed a little bit of that same idea of defining Sharon Tate in spite of her tragedy, and then giving her some agency within her own story. I just feel like that character was in this movie to act as a constant reminder that eventually, shit will get serious, and then when things do escalate in the final act, the movie's two very fictional characters are in the middle of the action instead.

To me, I dont really get why Tarantino needed to use the Manson Family murders as a backdrop to his movie about Male friendship and the insecurities that come with creating art, and the mortality of the artist's ability to create. There are some interesting ideas at play, but they don't really mesh with Sharon Tate's story that eventually converges in the final act. The movie isn't able to merge its plots to create that catharsis we should feel at the end, and while the ending is enjoyable as an isolated piece of filmmaking, the movie leading up to it feels way too meandering and aimless to really hit hard. I just didn't connect with this movie, that's all it comes down to really

Musa Chaudhry liked this review