Once Upon a Time In Hollywood Review

Everyone with a pair of lungs and a beating heart will one day have moment, or perhaps even a season, of in their life when they ask, “What happened?  Where am I?”  This might come in the form of a sudden or traumatic event in a person’s life; it could also be a slow progression, such as a waning career.  No matter what form the mid-life, quarter-life, or fill-in-the-blank crisis presents itself in, it is difficult to make decisions about an uncertain future. 

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood reminds us that life is unequally unfair, and what you do about it is up to you.” 

The ninth film directed by Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood follows a couple of men navigating their way through a city and an industry that no longer has an interest in them.  Once at the peak of television popularity, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) are no longer in the prime of their careers and must find a new place in an industry that has moved on.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood does a lot well, but perhaps one of its best qualities is balancing drama and intrigue with very human characters.  Rick Dalton lives a very different life than most people.  He owns a home in Hollywood.  He is a name in the industry, and his personal demons keep him from being his best self.  Despite his resume, he constantly must prove his worth as an actor to everyone– which is something he did not have to do when he was the star of the top western show of the 1950s – and is something anyone who is trying to earn a living understands. 

This film works because it shows us how struggle affects different people in different situations trying to “make it”.  Rick Dalton’s neighbor, a famous Hollywood director, is in his prime and enjoying life.  Rick Dalton is searching for his place, but still enjoys the comforts he has managed to hold on to.  On the other end of the spectrum, Cliff Booth is living far more modestly, and takes a much more “chill” approach to dealing with his circumstances. 

If you like slower, more character-driven movies with a lot of heart and peppered with “hell yeah” moments, this movie is for you.  There are definitely some kick-ass moments that will make you smile (one involving a flamethrower, but we won’t go there right now), and there are moments that will make you feel for what these characters go through on their journey.  Once Upon A Time in Hollywood reminds us that life is unequally unfair, and what you do about it is up to you.  And that’s what I like about it.

Branson Greer | Senior Movie Noob

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