By Ignacio Perez ’20
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a historical fiction starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margo Robbie and directed by Quentin Tarantino, seems to perfectly encapsulate Hollywood in the late 1960’s. The movie’s enthralling story and set pieces, represented through colorful camera work and a well written script, carries the movie through its lengthy two hour and 40 minute run time. This movie tends to stray from what you would expect in a Tarantino film such as Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill, yet the writing comes forward in a similar format to his other films, riddled with what seems to be pointless dialogue that in reality contributes to meaningful character development.
The plot revolves around a famous western actor Rick Dalton, played by DiCaprio, who refuses to accept his newly-found irrelevance while his right hand man Cliff Booth, an out-of-work stunt man played by Brad Pitt, runs Dalton’s errands and falls in with some bohemian hippies. These two threads intertwine with the daily routines of Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, culminating in an outstanding climax with all three story lines coming together.
The unique aspects of the movie are the color grading and the cinematography. The pastel colors throughout the film capture both the contemporary culture in Hollywood and the hippie zeitgeist, and the unpretentious cinematography is fun and captivating during the entire move. On top of that, the acting is phenomenal. DiCaprio’s high-strung performance is especially worthy of an academy award.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood delivers thematic tones reminiscent of La La Land and Whiplash. The latter two are about the sacrifices made to accomplish life long dreams, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood goes in the opposite direction. Rick Dalton’s never-achieved dreams are slowly fading into obscurity as he fights for long-standing fame, a story that does not get told often on the big screen. It’s a story of heartbreak and hopelessness. Dalton feels as if all his options are gone and his prime is long gone, a somber story that shows a more depressing side of Hollywood. This unique vision is what really spoke to me when I watched this movie.
In addition to impressive color schemes and camera angles the movie offers a fresh script along with stellar acting. Although the movie is slow at times, it shows a meticulous Tarantino, who has found a more relaxed rhythm. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a great time capsule for the end of the 1960’s and a new take on Hollywood dreams.