Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood's golden age.
The movie is revisionist fiction, with several made-up characters interacting with existing ones, thereby changing the course of real-life history. In this case, the infamous Sharon Tate murders by members of Charles Manson's 'family' are disrupted by the presence of Rick Dalton ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) and Cliff Booth ( Brad Pitt ).
The film accurately shows Charles Manson ( Damon Herriman ) visiting Tate's house early in the film, looking for music producer Terry Melcher (the previous renter) because he felt that Melcher owed him the record deal that he was once promised. After learning that Melcher had moved on, Manson decided that it was still good location because he had been in the house before and he knew the layout of the main house very well. (He was unaware, however, of the guest house in which a groundsman lived; one who later said that he had not heard the screams but whose visitor that night had been the first to be killed).
Six months later Manson instructed four of his followers to go to the house and to kill all the occupants. The four drove over there, briefly parked on the driveway to cut the phone lines to Tate's house, then proceeded to park the car at the bottom of the hill, went back to the house on foot and killed five people (Tate, three of her friends who happened to be at the house, and the friend of the groundsman who had responded to a personal ad for a radio for sale).
The first significant point of divergence between the real and fictional account is the fact that Dalton notices the four as they are parked on the driveway. He gets out, verbally abuses them and sends them away. This angers Tex ( Austin Butler ) and the three women to the point where they decide to come back and invade Dalton's house instead. This incident also causes the woman called Flower Child ( Maya Hawke ) to get cold feet, and leave with the car (in real life, this was Linda Kasabian, who accompanied the others all the way but did not participate in the killings). In the end, the fatal mistake on the part of the killers is invading Dalton's house, not counting on the resistance of Booth and his dog, and Dalton himself. Flower Child was played by the daughter of Tarantino favorite Uma Thurman. See more »
When Cliff Booth arrives at the Spahn Ranch shadows show that the different angles of the scene are shot at different times of the day. See more »
Longer than it needed to be (and not in a good way)
This is a tricky one. The acting is superb trhoughout. DiCaprio does himself proud, as does Pitt. It's shot well, it's incredibly nostalgic, but I can't help feel it's missing something. The last 30 mins are ace - that's where the positive reviews are kept. Tarintino does what he does best in that last half hour. It's a shame it took two hours to get there. More time developing the final storyline and less nostalgia would probably have led to a better experience. Or tell the same story in 90 minutes. The soundtrack was ace - pure sixties.