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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Fairy-tales usually begin with ‘Once Upon a Time’. What follows is usually a charming story filled with nice people and situations. Although having a title with the phrase, ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is anything but. A look at a golden era in Tinsletown with a seedy underbelly that only director Quentin Tarantino can provide. There are more sinners than saints in his story with a typical fairy-tale ending not assured.

Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a popular TV actor wanting to transition to films. Trawling through the rough and tumble of agents and auditions, he is joined by best friend Cliff (Brad Pitt). They meet aspiring actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and an assortment of hopeful thespians. With death, mayhem and personal trauma never far away, Dalton’s life becomes as outlandish as any huge Hollywood pot-boiler.

Despite the cast’s solid performances, ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ is the least of Tarantino’s output. Self-indulgent, meandering and often dull, his latest is a study in excess, tastelessness and insensitivity. This is especially true with the inclusion of tragic real-life celebrity Sharon Tate. Tarantino’s use of her persona offers little to the script and only raises questions about his dubious writing abilities.

Much better is the look and music of the era. These elements successfully conjure the atmosphere of the classic Hollywood system and attitudes. Between the tedium, there are bright sparks of Tarantino’s trademark style. He’s more skilled at creating his own characters than having to resort to using real people in his narrative for shock value. His script is very dis-jointed with an episodic feel rather than flowing as one complete piece.

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ isn’t worth the huge run-time or craftmanship of all concerned. It’s a mostly feeble slog through well-worn Hollywood clichés and rambling scenes. Easily the worst movie of Tarantino’s career, it’s a very disappointing effort from a film-maker who has done much better.

Rating out of 10: 5

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