Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is set in Hollywood (USA) in 1969, revolves around Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) – a downhill actor – and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who stunts for Rick. Formerly the leading male lead, now Rick is only allowed to take on the villain role, struggling to find ways to revive his name, and Cliff’s life is more difficult. Between this time, star Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) and her husband – director Roman Polanski (Rafał Zawierucha) – come to live near Rick’s house.
With the title of the movie with the phrase “Once Upon a Time …” (“Once upon a time …”, often using the opening of a fairy tale), Quentin Tarantino does not hide his intention of telling a fictional work. The film mixes between real events and the details created by the director. Sharon Tate, Roman Polanski, supporting characters such as Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen, Jay Sebring are real people, active in Hollywood at that time, and the two main roles are fantasy.
The script – also written by Quentin Tarantino – goes against the audience’s guess. Since the film featured Sharon Tate, many thought the focus of the work was on her 1969 murder. However, this content is only implicitly implicit in the story, covered with many unrelated details. Quentin also gives a series of clues to distract viewers, from Cliff’s past, the scene where Tate meets Charles Manson (the mastermind of killing her in real life) to the character George Spahn – who lives with the Manson gang (the murderers real life).
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood was referred to by many European and American writers as the “love letter” of Quentin Tarantino for Hollywood. Some features of the movie capital are re-enacted such as parties, cowboy film culture, outdoor cinema, earth-colored costumes, mini-skirts, aviator glasses prevailing these times. All three important roles Rick, Cliff and Sharon Tate love cinema and are portrayed in a positive way. Rick is arrogant, has a big ego but endeavors in acting, torment himself if he cannot do well. Cliff is firm, quiet, and silently contributes to the film industry.
And Sharon Tate represents the American dream, is a rising young actor with a pure passion for cinema, excited to see his work. This character resembles a princess from a fairy tale, portrayed by Quentin Tarantino with happiness overflowing with her tragic contrast in real life.
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood – as well as many other Quentin films – do not follow the three-act structure, even a few story lines become “dead ends” in the script (ie do not participate in the ending). However, the director knows how to attract viewers by building drama in each scene. A typical example of this style is the clash between Cliff and Bruce Lee (played by Mike Moh). With a long shot, body movements and satirical voice of boxer Li, the filmmaker quickly established a confrontation between him and Cliff. Their contest was then abruptly interrupted with a funny episode.
In another scene, Quentin Tarantino creates charisma by reversing character status. Upon entering the set, Rick suddenly met a child star (Julia Butters) profoundly, talking like an experienced person. This character quickly pushed Rick into the lower position when talking. The scene of an old actor dressed in a cool and embarrassing life in front of a girl creates a satirical atmosphere. This development also pushed Rick into strong inner conflict and gave momentum to the next scene. The technique of changing genre is also used consecutively in many sequences, sometimes from horror to comedy, from romance to drama or from comedy to bloody violence – a “specialty” in the movie Quentin Tarantino.
Although there are many situational comedy, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood has no shortage of messages. The dialogue between Rick and the female star discusses the dedication and progress in acting. A clip just before the climax of the film “reminds” the message about the impact of violent movies. America in Tarantino’s film is also full of divisions with the hippie movement, the fate of immigrants, the lost of the younger generation.
The plot at the end of the film is a major turning point in the story, mixing real life and fantasy. At this point, the work appears to be a Tarantino fairy tale for revenge. The revenge is not between the two characters – like many of his previous films – but that of the historical director. Or it can be said that Quentin used cinema itself to avenge the greatest pain in the history of cinema.
Leonardo DiCaprio is a suitable choice for the role of Rick Dalton. The 44-year-old actor has the beauty of classic Hollywood stars, and plays a full role in the character’s inner conflict. In the scene where Rick read the wrong line, losing his face in front of the crew, Leo skillfully expressed the feelings of the person in his insecurity but had to try to be confident. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt showed off his manly, steadfastness as Cliff. And Margot Robbie is charming but a little bit of land compared to two male colleagues. Child star Julia Butters also made a strong impression, even though there were only two scenes with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Fashion supports the performances of the stars. The character of Leonardo wears a turtleneck sweater and a dusty leather jacket with brown, orange, mustard yellow, black. The costume line is rigid, like the reserved and conservative character of the character. When he returned from Europe, he wore scarves, orange-red trousers and sideburns with romantic sideburns (lengthening his hair on the sides and tucked back) – showing his class and influence from European fashion.
Brad Pitt’s shoulders are simpler to wear with a T-shirt, shirt and jeans. And Sharon Tate’s fashion sense has a European tone – like real characters – with brands from Rudi Gernreich, Jean Muir, Betsey Johnson, Courrèges, Paraphernalia and Ossie Clark. In the scene where Tate goes to the boss Playboy’s party, her crew wears a yellow leather suit including crop top and shorts based on the character’s real outfit.
The shocking massacre suddenly turned into a joke?
The massacre of four people in actress Sharon Tate’s private mansion on August 8, 1969 was a big shock for both the Hollywood movie capital and the world. When the Hollywood beauty icon was brutally murdered in her own home, there was nothing really safe and desirable to deserve. Everywhere is a watchful, lavish parties have gradually passed into the past and the colored lights are not as sparkling as before.
The memory of Sharon Tate is not this actress’s heart-touching beauty or talent, but her pity for a fate and an innocent child who was pitifully killed. Therefore, Quentin Tarantino “blew” into the film a new wind, a story far different from reality for the audience to remember, well, they had also seen a beautiful, brilliant, happy Sharon. Happily, they had seen a beautiful Hollywood and captivated the soul, not the horror after the massacre. That is the Hollywood that we always love and admire.
In conclusion, each person’s feeling when enjoying “Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood” can be very different depending on the experience and understanding of the movie capital and filmmaking style of Quentin Tarantino. in particular as well as American popular culture in general. However, there are details that are meaningful and valuable that will not change over time, even if you have not realized or recalled, it is always the most vivid evidence that filmmakers want to include in their work to build. a work of art of the 21st century.
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood received a six-minute applause when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival (France) in May. The work is also expected to have a high record at Oscar 2020. The GoldDerby page rated the film as a potential candidate for the award. “Best Movie”, alongside The Irishman, Little Women and 1917.