ONCE Upon A Time… in Hollywood is director Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to Hollywood and although it is as colourful and character-filled as any Tarantino film, the wandering and plotless story ends up outstaying its welcome.
It is 1969 and TV Western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is coming to the realisation that his career is on the decline, while his long-time stunt double and friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) has become not much more than a glorified chauffeur and handyman for Rick.
Rick’s neighbour Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) is enjoying her burgeoning career, going to Hollywood parties, a baby on the way with husband Roman Polanksi (Rafal Zawierucha) and a starring role in a Dean Martin movie now showing in cinemas.
On the fringes of Los Angeles, the Manson family are a foreboding presence, with the barefooted Manson girls often seen hitchhiking their way through the city.
The time and place is meticulously evoked from the eye-wateringly bright costumes to the luxurious LA homes to a soundtrack of not just music but advertisements of the era that blast from TVs and car radios.
DiCaprio and Pitt are excellent as the pair of unlikely friends and the film’s strongest moments are when they are on screen together, with Pitt’s confident but quiet swagger a perfect contrast to DiCaprio’s emotional poignancy.
Robbie also beautifully embodies Tate with a lightness and warmth that cannot help but endear audiences to her despite not being given much to say line-wise.
The two male leads, however, are separate for most of the film and while individual scenes, such as Dalton’s encounter with a child actor on the set of his next project, are entertaining enough, the sum of the parts does not lead to a satisfactory whole.
The disparate elements eventually come together in a conclusion as bloody and violent as any Tarantino fan could wish for, but after more than two hours it is too little too late.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (MA)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Review by: Lucy Rutherford
In cinemas now