From the mind of director Quentin Tarantino comes Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, a film which both highlights and tears apart the final few years of the golden age of Hollywood, focusing on the story of actor Rick Dalton as he tries to find success in movies in the late 1960’s. With a star studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, it oozes Hollywood glam in places, and movie making grit in others.
What this film tries to do it pick apart the issues of Hollywood by highlighting the issues that actors face as they get older and are replaced with younger, more vibrant talent that are more adapted to the more modern movie making techniques. We see this in Rick Dalton’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) story as he moves on from being a once much loved television star in a popular Western series to struggling to fit into the big budget Hollywood movies. As he struggles with lines and being overshadowed by his young co-stars, including precocious child star Trudi Fraser (Julia Butters), he tries to fight off the temptation of being pulled into the world of spaghetti westerns, made cheaply and quickly in Europe.
With Rick’s story being the main plotline, numerous story lines are woven into and around it, including that of Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), Rick’s ex stunt man who has found that his talents aren’t really required anymore and he is instead stuck working for Rick as a driver and assistant instead. He plods around, drinking too much and mixing with all of the wrong people including Pussycat (Margaret Qualley), a young women who lives in some sort of strange commune on a now unused film lot. We also see Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, also struggling to fit into Hollywood.
With many sub plots and little stories twisting around, I’ll admit that it takes a while to actually establish what the main story line is as for quite a while, nothing much happens. The lengthy running time rolls along at a slow pace as we see Rick struggling to manage the changes in Hollywood and his falling levels of fame, leading me to struggle to work out how exactly all of the plot points would come together. They kind of do in the end, but in a completely unexpected fashion.
I think that the main issue with this movie is it’s running time. At nearly three hours long, you really have to be committed to sitting this one through, and I have to admit that I found it all to be a bit of a drag. Numerous scenes of western movie making feel a little repetitive, along with many shots of fancy cars being driven along sunny Hollywood boulevards to fancy Hollywood Parties. I can see what this film is trying to do, and can see how it takes stories of the 60’s and makes them apply to the modern world of movie making, but it does it an awfully long winded way.