Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, and TV star Rick Dalton and his longtime stunt double, Cliff Booth, make their way around an industry they hardly recognise anymore.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
When I stepped out of the cinema after watching Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature film, I was slightly disorientated.
The fluorescent white lights from the noisy shopping centre woke me from my cosy cinematic daze. In the dark cocoon of the theatre, I had lost track of reality and was absorbed into a world I knew very little about yet was somehow oddly familiar with.
Set in the City of Angels in 1969, the film plays off in a Hollywood very few would recognise – a kind of stripped bare version of the playground of the rich and famous. An almost voyeuristic peek at the real world of filmmaking – behind the glitz and glam. Like the time I snuck in behind the fake rock walls of Sun City. I remember my disappointment in finding stuffed garbage bins and tired delivery vans stationed behind the mirage of grandeur that was the manufactured hidden jungle.
This wilted version of Tinseltown, that tries its best to shine bright, makes for a wonderfully melancholic backdrop to a film that will surely go down as one of Mr. Tarantino’s very best. True to his style, he manages to make the ordinary feel extraordinary and turns the grotesque into gawkworthy entertainment. This creates a fruitful foundation from which two of the most iconic actors of our time can flourish fearlessly as they explore and create the characters of Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).
The two men are opposites, but Cliff’s job is to morph into Rick as his stunt-double on movie sets. Rick is rich, famous, and supposedly an all-round bad guy. But in reality, he’s nothing but a whimpering lapdog that licks up any movie or TV role he can scrape together. Mr. DiCaprio does a superb job of playing both the good-looking cowboy whilst at the same time effortlessly brings to life the picture of an insecure actor who’s struggling with his fading moment in the spotlight and rapidly disappearing youth.
Mr. Pitt takes on the exact opposite, merely a figure in the shadows he’s comfortable with his anonymity and possesses a rugged handsomeness that oozes from the comfort he has in himself. His chiselled physique and standout shirtless scenes push the sizzle levels to the maximum and drenches the film in a type of dreamy sexiness that stares at you from behind a pair of fashionable sunglasses.
Subtly seductive, the film drew me in with every detail as it flowed from Western classic to hippie chic to Tarantino’s unique and energetic approach to violence. Underneath it all lies buried a wicked sense of comedic timing so perfect that it manifests itself as a constant smirk on your face as you watch it all go up in flames – literally.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: