Quentin Tarantino's ninth feature film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt held its world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
The Oscar-winning auteur behind Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained made pleas for no spoilers amid a star-studded and raucous red carpet debut. It was 25 years ago that Pulp Fiction made its world-shattering debut at the same festival, before going on to win the coveted Palme D'Or trophy.
Hollywood is in contention for the same prize, along with Best Screenplay. The film centres on struggling TV actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stuntman Cliff Booth (Pitt) who are forced to confront the changing landscape of Tinseltown in 1969.
Amid a kaleidoscopic tapestry of characters, Tarantino also interweaves the horrifying murder of actress Sharon Tate (I, Tonya's Margot Robbie). Tate's gruesome death at the hands of the Manson family is credited with instilling a sense of disillusion at the tail-end of the decade.
Early reviews indicate another provocative, troubling and hilarious Tarantino masterpiece that melds fact and fiction in the writer-director's typically quixotic style. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw describes it as "entirely outrageous, disorientating, irresponsible, and also brilliant", adding "it’s shocking, gripping, dazzlingly shot in the celluloid-primary colours of sky blue and sunset gold". (The director of photography is the celebrated Robert Richardson, who has worked with Tarantino in the past on the likes of Kill Bill and Django Unchained.)
Variety's Owen Gleiberman describes it as a "a heady, engrossing, kaleidoscopic, spectacularly detailed nostalgic splatter collage of a film". He lauds the performances of DiCaprio and Pitt: "DiCaprio and Pitt fill out their roles with such rawhide movie-star conviction that we’re happy to settle back and watch Tarantino unfurl this tale in any direction he wants."
Time Out's Dave Calhoun describes the movie thus: "The sort of high-wire, playful and madly enjoyable riff on film-world folklore that only Quentin Tarantino could get away with, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a massively fun shaggy-dog story that blends fact and fiction by inserting made-up characters at the heart of real, horrible events and then daring history to do its worst."
Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson is among several critics who say the movie rests on the hugely entertaining dynamic between DiCaprio and Pitt. "One’s allegiance to the film is consistently won back by DiCaprio and Pitt, who make easy, and disarmingly humble, platonic poetry out of this curious dynamic," he writes. "[Tarantino's] always been a great director of actors, and here he manages to wipe away some of the gunk of time and fame to find an indefinable It-ness that used to get people noticed at lunch counters."
And The Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin says Tarantino imagines an intriguing, idealised vision of Los Angeles that has been and gone. "Tarantino luxuriates in bringing this prelapsarian heyday roaring back to life, and the effect is pure movie-world intoxication, laced with in-jokes and nibble-ably sweet period detail."
And that ending? Critics have heeded Tarantino's word and resisted spoilers, suffice to say many felt a visceral response to the movie's violent conclusion. Collin himself describes it as the "single most shocking sequence in Tarantino's filmography", adding "the transgressive thrill is undeniable, and the artistry mesmerisingly assured".
As if all that wasn't enough of an appetite-whetter, we've also got the brand new trailer for you to peruse. DiCaprio and Pitt take centre stage again as the central bromantic duo, and we also get more of Robbie's eerie approximation of the doomed Tate. Plus, check out the first glimpse of Al Pacino as Dalton's mouthy agent Marvin Shwarz and the late Luke Perry in his final role.
And here are some eye-grabbing fictional posters, teasing the Spaghetti Western milieu in which DiCaprio's Rick Dalton finds himself. (Film buffs will note the credit for Italian director Sergio Corbucci, real-life helmer of The Great Silence starring Klaus Kinski – a typically sly Tarantino meshing of truth and make-believe.)