A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles
21st of May this year. La Croisette in Cannes became 1960’s Hollywood. Director Quentin Tarantino walked the most famous stairs alongside the “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” stars Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie for the world premiere of his ninth film. Sadly, we weren’t with them to enjoy the glitter, glamour and the film at Cannes but our patience is finally being rewarded. And oh boy, the wait was worth it! “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is probably more Tarantino-esque than the director probably could have imagined!
Brad Pitt being Leonard DiCaprio’s stunt double? It seems that in the 60’s everything was possible. Meet Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), a once very well respected television cowboy, whose career is now spiralling downward at a rapid speed. After gaining worldwide fame with the Western television series ‘Bounty Law’, Dalton is now becoming one of the oldies on his way to his showbiz grave. Being there to help him out with his professional and personal life is his stunt double/close friend/personal driver Cliff Booth (Pitt). While Dalton is constantly being reminded of the glamourous life he once had, his new next-door neighbour Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is dreaming of her glorious upcoming acting career. In the city where it’s all about fame, status and being rich, both Dalton and Tate are doing everything they can to keep their fantasy alive. For Tate that means getting to know rich and famous, for Dalton it means going to Italy and making movies that are out of his comfort zone. Of course, as any good friend, Booth is joining Dalton during his Italian voyage.
Six months after they first set foot in Italy, Dalton and Booth return to Hollywood. Dalton got married to actress Francesca and his outstanding life is back on tracks. Booth starts again living his usual Hollywood life. Enjoying the city and its people, the time with his dog and naturally also his on-set work (although that seems to become less and less). When he one day decides to give the rather horny hippie Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) a lift to the Spahn Movie it seems that also his life will be influenced by a woman. Curious to find out what happened to their lovely neighbour Tate? Well, she got married to a rather famous Polish director. It seems that Hollywood is the only thing that connects the three of them. Well, a Tarantino movie wouldn’t be a real one if there wouldn’t be more than what meets the eye…
A brilliant tribute to Hollywood made by outstanding people
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”. Well, the title says it all. Tarantino is honouring Hollywood most meticulously and nostalgically. TV and movie pastiches, numerous billboards, the typical 60’s cinema theatres, the incredibly recognizable pop tunes, and commercial advertisements are all passing by. However, it’s mostly the film crew that was able to get the right vibe flowing through the film. First of all, there’s the stunning production design from Barbara Ling. She thought of every single detail: whether it’s the interior of the saloons, the neat and clean design of Dalton’s mansion or colourful and dazzling parties, it’s all achieved beautifully.
We also have to applaud the flawless work of Arianne Phillips who was in charge of the massive variety of costumes. From rock ‘n roll cowboy to stylish actor and from just an everyday outfit to multi-coloured, elegant and chic dresses, it seems that no costume was too hard to find or to create for her. If you’re Quentin Tarantino then you know how to choose your cinematographer and with Robbie Richardson, he made a faultless choice. Richardson brings life and colour to this film like no one else can.
Pitt + DiCaprio + Robbie = the perfect trio
Pitt, DiCaprio, and Robbie all in the same film. Do we need to tell you how great that casting was? Probably not but we’re going to do it anyway. One thing is for sure: DiCaprio is not going to have to wait for another Oscar as he did for his first. He’s spot-on as Dalton. One moment he has to deliberately act like a beginning actors while a few seconds later, he has to perform like it’s his last scene ever. DiCaprio does it with an enormous amount of flair, emotions, and craftsmanship.
Having one great actor was not enough for Tarantino as he also added Brad Pitt to the cast. Pitt oozes tranquillity, charisma, and personality as the rough-though, straight-to-the-point but also loving stunt double Booth. It will be an extremely close call who will take home the awards for best leading actor. If you’re looking for a leading actress who performs impeccably a beautiful, full-of-life and determined upcoming actress, then you should go for Robbie. She gives this film the more elegant, colourful and joyful touch.
And the award goes to…
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” may or may not be Tarantino’s penultimate film and if he decides to fold up his director chairs after his next film, then we hope that that movie will be from the same calibre as this one. “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is a visually stunning, perfectly performed, while also being a craftily and passionately made homage to Hollywood in the ’60s. It would come as absolutely no surprise if “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”, its director and cast become the front-runner during the following award season.
Verdict: (4 / 5)
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