Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood ★★★★½

Quentin Tarantino takes us back to late '60s Hollywood when the flower power movement was in full swing, hippies roamed the streets, everyone chain-smoked, the new-fangled colour TV was competing with the cinema screen as the premier form of visual entertainment, neon lights bedecked downtown Los Angeles and macho actors like Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee ruled the world.

Our premier focus is on failing TV and B-movie action star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his best friend come occasional stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) a former green beret who is a real-life tough guy with a somewhat ambiguous past and a far more easy-going approach to life compared to the hard-drinking Rick.

Also characterised is the tragic Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) a beautiful and sweet-natured young actress who is in a relationship with hot up and coming European director Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) who just happens to be Dalton's next-door neighbour in an exclusive address in the Hollywood hills though the two have never actually interacted.

Being a cinephile who's familiar with the movies and stars of the time as well as the Manson Family cult and the tragic events leading up to Tate's slaughter I found it a completely absorbing and highly satisfying nostalgia-fest for a time clearly very close to Tarantino's creative heart.

But at almost two and three quarters hours anyone who's not similarly attuned to the time in which it's set and events of which it is pastiching would likely find it a meandering, unfocused and an at times disconnected multiple character study.

It's impeccably made by Tarantino with a real reverence for the era. Time travel isn't possible yet but until it is this is about as close to it as you'll get.

Beautifully filmed and edited it features premier actors delivering the goods - Di Caprio, in particular, is outstanding as the stressed-out Dalton panicked over his faltering career - and it's all pretty transparent this is a real passion project on the director's part.

Tate's characterisation whilst fleeting and idealistic at least shows her as a real person and far more than just the victim of a notoriously horrific murder - which has always been the lingering perception - but instead as a young actress with hopes and dreams who was relishing her newfound celebrity status in a genuinely appreciative manner.

However, like I said if you aren't coming into this with a bit of previous knowledge of events at the time as well as a reverence for the period then you will likely find it all a bit self-indulgent and overbearingly derivative.

Personally, I loved it.

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