Review: ‘Once upon a time in Hollywood’ is a visual masterpiece

Tarantino aims high with his cowboy period-piece in his trademark style with broad strokes of vintage-themed Hollywood of the 50s and 60s. Depicting a microcosm that captures the ‘Golden Age’ encompassing a variety of themes ranging from ‘rock ‘n’ roll, cowboy movie culture, the hippie movement, psychoactive substances, free-love counterculture to Manson Family crimes and the overall indulgent Hollywood lifestyle, the movie grows on you as it progresses albeit at a slow pace. In the chaotic cacophony buzzing with a nostalgic Hollywood’s transatlantic slant and seemingly unrelated jigsaw scenes, you see a common thread amongst the myriad characters and everything woven together in the end. While Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie) beguiles with her performance, we see the lead Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) having a meltdown, blaming his inability to remember the lines on alcoholism and then redeeming himself later.

Once upon a time in Hollywood

The blood and gore are on point yet surprisingly marginal despite depicting Manson’s murders with environments enhanced by VFX (done by Luma Pictures). You can see an impeccable use of fire-effects, background replacements and green screens but what stands out is Tarantino’s storytelling and content which unfolds seamlessly over the course of the actor’s journey. The movie presents the fictional actor Rick Dalton’s assent and dreams in the face of struggles. Although most of it is set against the backdrop of real-life scenarios seizing the heart of the classic Hollywood of the halcyon days graded in sunshine hues, the story is largely a fictional one.

The movie, as it were, is a homage to what Tarantino has grown up learning from the old Hollywood movies. The cinema, the pop-culture conjectures, the real-life tragedies of the era… all collectively constitute his inspiration as a filmmaker. The movie could have been shorter, had it been edited more judiciously as some scenes look painfully stretched.

Leonardo Di Caprio delivers a thrilling performance while Pitt is equally charming as a buddy. Margot plays her part effortlessly well. The jaw-dropping last sequence packs quite a punch comprising everything from dog-bites to butcher knives to flamethrowers and jiggered faces. Another masterpiece in Tarantino’s oeuvre.