Daniel McCord ’24

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is the ultimate film nerd movie, and director Quentin Tarantino knows this. Serving as an impressive capture of the zeitgeist of Hollywood’s waning golden age, Tarantino weaves together compelling, thoughtful, and immersive character studies alongside comedy and heart-tugging drama, endless cameos from cinema’s most beloved, and a crowd-pleasing alternate take of one of the industry’s darkest moments, all tied together with a bow of reverential adoration of Hollywood and film as a whole. 

The story is shown through the eyes of a fictional aging movie star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), his assistant, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), and (puzzlingly) real-life actress and historical figure Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) as they work, party and thrive in 1960s consumerist bliss. While initially seen as shallow “good old boy” types, Dalton and his assistant become the ultimate buddy-duo, utilizing hilariously over-the-top situational comedy as well as a genuinely affecting brotherly relationship between the two. Their interactions and depiction are the true heart of the movie, as they become increasingly sympathetic and lovable as characters. In contrast, Sharon Tate’s parts, though equally important,  and serving as entertaining departures from the main plot to get a better picture of a normal day-to-day Hollywood experience, are not immediately obvious; until the ending, that is. 

Speaking of the ending: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s” conclusion is Tarantino’s finest hour as writer and director. Jaw-droppingly violent, absolutely hilarious and oddly touching all at once, a brutal and lengthy set piece of physical comedy followed by a respectful reflection on the love between two friends, it’s a spectacle that must truly be seen to be believed. In my own experience, my entire theater was soaring with cheers and laughter during the ending, and I can confidently say you’ll do the same. 

Through his depiction of Hollywood in the 1960’s Quentin Tarantino creates an equally funny and heartfelt love letter to film and a depiction of the ups and downs of friendship. It’s powerful, hilarious, endlessly rewatchable, and a perfect experience for those who love movies. For that, I give it a 10/10.