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.

Building off of my initial thoughts, part of what makes this work so well is the sense of dread that lingers in your mind whenever it pivots to the Manson family members or Sharon Tate: the expectation/fear that Tarantino’s instinct to embrace cartoonish violence when the film inevitably gets to the attack will be too much to bear. Making Tate such a cosmically likable character means that any chance of seeing her torture presented like that of Beatrix Kiddo or Bridget von Hammersmark leaves you uneasy. You have to hold out a degree of trust for two hours that he’ll make it work or else the preemptive distaste becomes too much to handle.

That he then delivers the ultraviolence without violating our overwhelming sympathy for Tate comes as a relief and heightens the degree to which we feel permitted to enjoy seeing faces smashed in and bodies burnt to a crisp (it also helps that our own imagination of how he’ll render this has made us dislike Tex and Sadie all the more, letting their ultimate demise feel as welcome a punishment as that which Tarantino exacted on slaveholders and Nazis). We go in worried that he’ll be excessive, only to get something that is just as excessive as we’d thought but substantially more meaningful because of all the misdirected fretting we’d already clocked in.

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