Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood film review

Tarantino's film shows a lot but asks a lot of it's audience's background knowledge

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film about two actors and their lives in Hollywood gives a lot of exciting, comical and downright entertaining scenes in its runtime. However, the film does the one thing a film shouldn’t have to do in order to be enjoyed: asks the audience to do research before and after the film. This movie has forced both moviegoers and me alike to re-evaluate how a structured story should be portrayed, in both a negative and positive manner.

OUAT…IH is about two veterans in the film industry, actor Rick Dalton as a struggling TV star hoping to star in movies and Cliff Booth as an old stuntman just trying to meet ends meet. It follows both their friendship and their lives throughout the early ’70s. It also involves Sharon Tate and Charles Manson’s family.

Now, the last part of that paragraph seems sudden and out of place, almost like it didn’t need to be there at all, right? It’s almost twice as bad in the film. Yes, Margot Robbie does as good as she usually does, but it’s just this weird, out of place third plot that holds nothing for the story.

The plotline is supposed to show the grim reality of what actually occurred in the 1970s of the Tate murders, a night where Sharon Tate and four other adults were killed by the Manson family directed by Charles Manson. And that entire third plotline that revolves around Sharon Tate holds no value if those events are not known before watching this film, which forces this movie to break a cardinal rule of film making. The story stays in the medium.

If any outside event or fact is needed to understand the film, it fails from a narrative standpoint. If the quality of the film depends on the audience member going home and researching certain things just to understand the theme, it fails on how it tells its story. It isn’t the job of the viewer to go and go through hoops to understand the message of a movie, it’s the job of the film to show that message in a clear way while still having deeper meanings attached to it.

The film becomes such a great story when those events are known. But that what makes this film forgettable and one of Tarantino’s weaker films. Not that it holds a lot of relevance to an event, but that viewers must know said event or else they won’t enjoy the show. And, frankly, that isn’t and never will be the viewer’s job.