26 September 2023

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Start the conversation

Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.

Director: Quentin Tarantino, Sony Pictures, MA 161 Minutes.

Quentin Tarantino has certainly turned the corner on the movies he has directed (following his 2015 western ‘The Hateful Eight’) with his overlong marathon being a trip down memory lane highlighting Hollywood’s changing cultural life of the ‘60s’.

It is therefore not surprising that the opening scenes of this comedic drama shows TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio –‘The Revenant’) and his stuntman Chris Booth (Brad Pitt –‘Allied’) being interviewed on the set of his televised western Bounty Law.

Due to his fading star and to resurrect his acting career, Rick is approached by agent Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino –‘Serpico’) to consider making spaghetti westerns in Europe much to the chagrin of his buddy and driver Chris.

As the story develops, the lifestyle of both men is revealed with Rick being driven to his luxurious home in Hollywood’s exclusive location while Chris lives the life of a cowboy in a derelict caravan.

As it turns out, Rick’s next door neighbours are director Roman Polanski (Polish actor Rafal Zawierucha –‘Plan B’) and his wife, none other than the rising starlet Sharon Tate (Aussie Margot Robbie –‘I Tonya’).

Then on the following day after Polanski has left home, Sharon and her friend Jay (Emile Hirsch –‘Freaks’) inadvertently meet Charles Manson (Aussie Damon Herriman –‘The Nightingale’) having been spotted by Chris while working on Rick’s roof.

In the intervening period prior to Rick and Chris departing for Europe to shoot the spaghetti westerns, Chris unknowingly becomes involved with some hippies – belonging to the Manson clan – confronting them at the ranch of George Spahn (Bruce Dern –‘Chappaquiddick’).

After returning to Los Angeles from Rome where Rick meets his actress wife Francesca (Lorenza Izzo), Chris, and later Rick, are forced to fight off a fatal home invasion from Manson’s hippies which ends up in Rick finally meeting Sharon.

Tarantino’s entertaining yet lengthy epic of 161 minutes pays tribute to Hollywood’s golden era of the late ‘60s’ by merging several storylines centered on its main characters, besides highlighting the emergence of the hippies.

In complementing his fairytale title of “once upon a time” Tarantino has assembled a cast of many celebrated stars such as Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and Steve McQueen (Damien Lewis) and, apart from Pacino and Dern delivering only cameos, the most enjoyable performances are provided by the leading actors – DiCaprio, Pitt and Robbie – especially Pitt.

Vic’s Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.