When Quentin Tarantino he had directed only two films (Reservoir Dogs Y pulp fiction) books were already written about him. He was born a legend and has remained so for his fans. The intensity of a career that included unleashed passions and turned each of his films into a new event. Someone could say that Quentin Tarantino has to be taken or left, without half measures. But after seeing once upon a time in hollywood and the state of cinema today, I would advise taking it immediately. This latest Tarantino film is so superior to its surroundings that even those of us who consider it good have not valued it accordingly. There are not so many sophisticated works today, Quentin Tarantino is a true gem that must be taken care of.
The title of the film has a double meaning. On the one hand, it is a tribute to the spaghetti western that he loves so much, in particular to once upon a time in the westthe masterpiece of Serge Leone, and on the other is the announcement that it is a fairy tale. Yes, Quentin Tarantino is capable of making one, and after seeing the movie any viewer will agree with this assessment. The film is a luminous renovation of a director whose films often have disturbing and violent moments, in addition to their challenging dramatic structures with time jumps and changes of point of view.
Here, the two protagonists are the actor rick dalton (Leonardo Dicaprio) and his friend, employee and stuntman, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Although Rick has participated in several minor films, his fame is due to having been the star of a successful television program, a western called Bounty Law in which he plays Jake Cahill, a bounty hunting cowboy. Throughout his career, Cliff has been his stunt double. But his move from television to film has not been as successful as he dreamed of and now he plays a guest villain on different television shows.
But once upon a time in hollywood also tells the story of Sharon Tate (margot robbie), a rising actress in 1969, the year in which the film takes place. Sharon Tate is married to the famous director Roman Polansky with whom he lives in the house next to Rick Dalton. We watch the slow but sure decline of Rick Dalton at the same time we watch the rising success of Sharon Tate. But of course, there is also another story, that of the sinister clan led by Charles Mansonwhich appears in several scenes of the story. The Manson clan and Sharon Tate are characters taken from reality, Dalton and Booth are characters with different inspirations but invented by Quentin Tarantino. In this game between fiction and reality, the director moves freely and gracefully.
When he started his career, Quentin Tarantino was considered a transgressor. He later became very popular and, although he continued to arouse controversy, he became part of the world of cinema, respected and awarded everywhere. The filmmaker evolved, changed some aspects and stayed true to himself in many others. But around him the industry entered a strange decadence and a time of pacatería and culture of cancellation that does not help cinema at all. Now Tarantino seems to be a transgressor again, although he is still the same, but it was the world that changed for the worse. This may be his friendliest and lightest film to date, but it doesn’t play by the political correctness manual and the poor director has received the increasingly frequent ideological accusations today. But when the stars agree to work with him and when the majority of the public approves, the thought police have little to add.
Freed from the excess of tricks with the timeline, the director tells in a very fluid and entertaining way all the stories that are happening in parallel. The movie is always funny, somewhat irreverent, and of course smart. His usual cinephilia peeks out without this preventing us from enjoying the narration, the characters and a story with a huge heart, in many ways the film full of feelings on the part of the director.
When Rick Dalton wonders all the time if the end has come, he seems to speak a little on behalf of several generations that have fallen by the wayside, including perhaps the director himself. But there is the counterpart of his friend Cliff, relaxed, who lives in the present and sees things differently. Even though Rick’s downfall possibly spells the end of his career as well. And again Sharon Tate, who sees how his career skyrockets and lives with the opposite of Rick’s gaze. She wonders if this is the big moment of her life. Tarantino is closer than Rick, but his genuine love for the actress shows in every scene. The three protagonists are at the height of the film, which is no small thing to say.
Those who know about cinema and know that period of Hollywood, will clearly see and read each and every one of the scenes. It is also key to know who Sharon Tate is to fully understand what Tarantino wanted to do with her film. Those who do not know cinema will enjoy the same film but will not finish reading it in the same way. Here Tarantino does something daring: there are two films in one, and both have to satisfy their viewers, even when they end up making two very different assessments. In both cases they will enjoy unforgettable scenes, a great sense of humor, some violent moments and an outstanding trio of protagonists. As if that wasn’t enough, they also work Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Timothy Olyphant, Emile Hirsch, Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, Margaret Qualley Y Damien Lewis. Getting big casts has never been a problem for Tarantino. Just as it is no surprise that he has made such a unique film as Once upon a time… in Hollywood.