Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Now I freely admit that these reviews are purely subjective, based entirely on my opinion and tastes. As such there are times where my reviews don’t line up with popular opinion. To the point where “Well I Liked It” is an award I give at the end of every year to films which I like but everyone else seems to hate. Previous films I’ve nominated for that have included Gringo, Murder On The Orient Express, Table 19, and The BFG. Conversely, there are times where it goes in the opposite direction, where a film is loved by everybody except me. The best examples of these tend to be horror films; The Shallows, The Gallows, The Marshmallows (I may have made that last one up). Films which I just didn’t get. I mention all of this to provide context for this review. I really disliked this film, for multiple reasons.

Don’t get me wrong, from a technical standpoint it was great, the performances were sublime and it nailed the look and feel of the time. It truly feels like it belongs in the time it’s set in. There aren’t many anachronistic nods and winks, you know, where someone makes a comment that we know has comedic implications, like “Westerns will always be the most popular movie genre”, or “Rosemary’s Baby? That will never work as a film”. As such you’re not really pulled out of the film that often by the dialogue. The film itself, however, is incredibly tedious. Almost 3 hours long with 20 minutes of story. I spent so much of the film bored. 90% of the film was not needed. Actually, entire sub-plots and characters aren’t needed.

That doesn’t compare to two things which push it into dislike territory for me. One was the deification of Roman Polanski. I get he was important in the reality, but this film isn’t about reality, and if he wasn’t mentioned you wouldn’t notice his missing. I know back then people did deify him, but to a modern audience, it’s weird to hear it. It would be like watching a film about a pop-punk band in early 2000’s and they constantly mention how much they love lostprophets.

More jarring than that is something very specific to Tarantino; feet. In case you hadn’t heard, he kind of has a foot fetish. A fact he makes ABUNDANTLY clear during this film. There are multiple scenes where female characters put their bare feet up to the camera. Here’s an example:

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How is that anything but jarring? It adds nothing to the film, it just takes you out of it completely. It’s incredibly distracting and kind of weird. The only thing it adds is more material to the director’s wank bank.

Normally with films like this, I’d say it should have been cut down, with this I think it should have been made longer and made into a TV series instead. It would have allowed it to compartmentalise some of the separate plots into their own distinct sections, with the overarching themes running in the background. It also would have allowed some of the performances to have more meaning. As I said, the performances are REALLY good. Dakota Fanning is suitably creepy, DiCaprio and Pitt are on top of their game. Two performances deserve a special mention though; Mikey Madison and Julia Butters. Two people I’m not that familiar with, but I’ll be keeping an eye on as they are mindblowing in this. Julia Butters, in particular, gives the film most of its emotional weight when she’s on-screen.

It may seem like I hated this film; I didn’t. The closing scenes were too good for me to hate it. They were scenes of chaos with some amazing performances. It’s not good enough to make me like it though. Many people love this film, and I get why they would. It’s just not for me, at all. And that’s okay, I don’t have to like everything, and I sincerely doubt Tarantino will give a shit that one person didn’t like it.

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