I can be ambivalent towards (about?) Quentin Tarantino especially after his last movie, but I won’t deny that I was desperate to see his take on late 60s Hollywood and all that entails, so unusually for me I insisted on going to see it on opening night. So glad I did.
A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood’s Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles
I managed to avoid any spoilers about this film before going to see it and fully intend to make sure not to include any here. So although I knew it was mostly about the two male leads as embodied by Leonardo DiCaprio (Rick Dalton) and Brad Pitt (Cliff Booth), I assumed that the story of Sharon Tate and the awful Manson business would loom large. And it did, but not quite in the way that I expected, making it all the better. I say that as someone who has been deeply interested in the whole Manson thing for a very long time, and this film has got me ready to do a deep dive back into the story of that dreadful man and his followers.
But I digress.
There is something that happens earlyish in the movie which had me in my standard “but that never happened in real life” position which has spoiled movies for me before, but as the film went on I realised that the event was deliberately wrong and set the stage for what was going to happen later. I know that’s probably unnecessarily cryptic but see reference to spoilers above.
Some of the very best bits involve delving into the collected works of Leo’s character, including short clips from various films and TV series he’s worked on in the past and the amazing posters produced to support that conceit, any of which I’d be thrilled to have on my walls. Leo & Brad (for so I shall refer to them) make a really cool double act, complementing each other in their portrayals of the two friends. There are also some lovely scenes about spaghetti westerns which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Margot Robbie is wonderful as Sharon Tate, giving life to a person who sadly is almost always referred to as a victim of a horrible crime as if that summed up her whole life. Emile Hirsch also deserves a shout-out as Jay Sebring.
There are some amazing cameos from some big names, but my favourites were:
- Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen – I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it
- Luke Perry as an actor in a TV western – I think this may have been his last role before his untimely death
- Julia Butters as a child actress in the same western – I think it’s still a cameo even if you’re not famous, but to be honest I don’t care as she is going to be famous soon enough.
Can you tell that I loved it? Recommended.
Dazzling details: directed by (of course) Tarantino, OUATIH is 2h 42m long and rated 18 for strong bloody violence.