Once Upon a Time in Hollywood highlights Tarantino’s ability to stay relevant with modern audiences

Peter O'Neill

To a large extent, escapism is one of the primary functions of cinema and art. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood may not be Tarantino’s best film but it succeeds in this aspect with its ending.

Although Sharon Tate’s character is extremely one dimensional in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, despite an impeccable performance from Margot Robbie, the film does show what a tragedy her murder was. The melancholic nature of seeing her enjoyment in watching her performance at the theatre is moving and makes the end of the movie all the more meaningful.

Similarly, to typical fairy tales, the villain is painted black and horrible and the heroes of Booth and Dalton are given redeemable traits and arcs among their flaws. As per usual Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances are brilliant. Tarantino also somehow makes Booth a likable character despite the fact it’s strongly implied he murdered his wife before the events of the movie, which is pretty astounding.

The film also expertly paints Manson’s family as the villains of the piece by displaying the horrible way in which they took advantage of vulnerable women in Hollywood by portraying how brainwashed they all were when the character of Booth visits his ranch. They’re completely enthralled by Manson’s message and charisma, which he used to take advantage of them sexually and emotionally repeatedly.

However, the best aspect of the film is by far the final scene. The reveal as to why the films title ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ is beautiful and one of the most impactful film endings of the year. Yes, you get the entertaining Loony Toons style violence in the scenes just before this, but the climax of the film reveals its meaning.

It may be a simple message that the world would have been a better place had Tate and her unborn child not been brutally murdered, but it reveals the inner sweetheart that Tarantino is deep down. Underneath the cartoon violence, misogyny and foot fetishism, there’s a sweet guy that just wanted to show that Hollywood would have been a much better place had she survived, and the Manson family burned to death by a flamethrower.

Ultimately, this form of escapism enthralls you and leaves you with a warm feeling that even at his best doesn’t happen with the director’s other work. The theme of the underdog taking down evil has been previously explored before by Tarantino, such as in Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained, but this movie provides the most heartwarming ending of the three films.

Tarantino displayed in this movie that while he may not be at the peak of his artistry anymore, he can still make great films in this day and age. In a cinema landscape dominated by endless Star Wars episodes, remakes and superhero movies, great directors like him should be praised and be allowed to flourish until they decide to retire.

Peter O’Neill

Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment