Video: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Review Transcript

It’s 1969 in Los Angeles. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt take on the roles of television actor Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth respectively. The two best friends are striving to achieve success and fame in the film industry. We see them have a number of interactions with people and unfortunately many scenes feel pointless as the plot is all over the place.

Despite not having an immediate compelling narrative, there are some great comedic moments sparsed throughout the film, one of my favorites involving a fight between Bruce Lee and Brad Pitt’s character. Another involving DiCaprio beating himself over his alcoholism and forgetting his lines. Not surprisingly, everything is well-acted due to the A-list cast.

The production is topnotch; “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” truly feels like it took place in the 60s. From the sets, the cars, and even the film used to shoot the movie- detail was paid close attention to .

Unfortunately, the longer I payed attention the more I kept asking, “Where is this going?” The film does not have a focal point and instead there are a ton of subplots or scenes that in hindsight you ask “Did this need to be in the movie?”. It feels like a TV series with episodes that do not always connect with each other, some parts are better than others. This may not bother you. There is some good writing and well-directed scenes scattered through the film- but for me when I am investing this much time I want to see a movie that builds the longer we watch it. We start the film wondering about Dalton who struggles with alcohol issues, there’s a rumor that Booth killed his wife, Booth gets into a fight with Bruce Lee, Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is completely wasted in yet another subplot that was meaningless. In the end, the payoff which is in the last few minutes of the final act was not worth sitting through 2 hours and 40 minutes of film.

Amidst all of these plot details, Tarantino wastes our time showing us more than what needs to be shown. There’s shots of people driving listening to music and instead of starting when people start talking we see them for no reason listening to music or just looking around. A shorter cut could possibly have won me over. Tarintino did have final cut privilege with this film and so his stamp of approval was on this edited version and I thought it was a task to sit through.

Final Verdict:Underwhelmingly episodic, resulting in a compilation of scenes that, despite having some good moments, lack a fully developed captivating story that pays off.