Film Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Film Review: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood


Hello all, it’s me your favorite film nerd, pouring some of her heart out into this film review. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is directed by Quentin Tarantino, an acclaimed film director known for this trademark of obscene violence. This film has a runtime of 162 minutes, which means brace yourself you’re in it for the long haul. I love Tarantino as much as any Tom Dick or Harry (Does anyone even say that anymore), but this film just didn’t hit the mark for me. I’m basing the rating of this film on 4 categories: Plot/Writing, Acting, Cinematography, and Theme. 


Plot/Writing: 3/10


I went into this film not knowing what it was about at all. I simply watched it and gaged what the story was about for myself. From my perspective it’s about Rick Dalton (Played by Leo Dicaprio), and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), attempting to stay relevant as Hollywood’s Golden Age is in decline. Rick is also neighbors with Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski . Basically Rick fears as most people do that he is not relevant and that his work will not be valued. The plot was a mess in terms of how it was meant to be set up. It’s very meta with showing filming of Rick’s movie within the movie, which was drawn out for too long and could not keep my attention. 


Along with this Cliff randomly interacts with hippies that are alluded to be the Manson family (who later murder Sharon Tate in real life) and at the same time Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), parades around with town watching her own movies. This seems like it tries to be a film that appreciates the Golden Era of Hollywood, but it only reminds us that Hollywood hasn’t been golden in quite some time, and this film certainly didn’t add to it. The plot could have executed much better than just seeing the lives of people in the film industry.


Acting: 6/10


My criticism with the acting in the film comes more from the characterization. First off like in most Hollywood films I see once again the leads are two white men, (although they did a fantastic job). Leonardo Dicaprio no doubt was great but not that much stood out about his performance like in other films. However I must admire that switching from playing a character within a character is very impressive. Brad Pitt was also phenomenal in his comedic timing, and expressions (not mention this man still has abs at the age of 54). 

                                                                            Brad what is your secret???


My two main criticisms from this film come from how Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and both Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) were portrayed. Margot Robbie is an exceptional actress and her talents were not used to her fullest potential in this film. Sharon Tate being a real actress was rather portrayed as ditzy and like eye candy, and barely has a role in the film. Margot Robbie barely speaks the entire time. Considering that this film alludes to her murder, you would think to see more of Sharon throughout the film. We don’t have to see Sharon Tate in every scene but at least some depth and actual lines that showcase her grace and intelligence would be nice. Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) was also portrayed as arrogant, picking fights and saying that he hated Muhammad Ali, none of which are true. Bruce Lee also had a bigger part in Sharon Tate’s life, but was simply used for a fight scene something I believe Tarantino employed as a last ditch effort to seem “diverse” in his casting and storytelling. 


Cinematography: 8/10

The cinematography in this film was the only thing that kept it afloat. The color palette evoked a huge sense of nostalgia and appreciation for that era. The numerous shots of the cars were beautifully done and shots of the landscape were very impressive. Tarantino has really taken a step forward in terms of re-introducing filming on 70 mm film. The overall look of the film omits a different visual narrative than that of our digital age where the picture is just a little too perfect. This film was very beautifully shot and the color palette is extremely distinct. This was the best part of the film. 


Theme: 1/10


Like in books whenever I watch a film I want to comprehend what the director is trying to say or portray in his work. Halfway through the film, I became disengaged as the plot became static and did not propel forward in any way. I don’t know what this film was trying to reflect or say because it really was just a sequence of events which lead to no avail. There is no resolution or solidified conclusion besides Rick meeting Sharon for the first time despite being neighbors. From a film with a runtime of 162 minutes, you’d expect to get something out of it, but the only thing I got was that I should have watched this at home where I can switch my entertainment. 


Overall: 4.5/10


Overall the score averages to 4.5. This certainly was not Tarantino’s best work, but I think it’s unfair to brand it as the worst film ever because certain parts of it were intriguing. It was filmed very beautifully and lived to its portrayal of L.A. in 1969. However this film did not have any concrete matter. It has to potential to be a very serious or comical plot but does not live up to it because it drags on for too long. The way bigger is always better supposedly the same could be said for films that choose to be longer just for face value. I found the same to be true with using the big names in the cast (Al Pacino was randomly in this for no good reason). I think the performances of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio is what was intriguing about this film. This film was okay, and I should probably mention that I saw this in a theater where nobody clapped. As the kids say, nuff said.