“Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” is a Halloween party masquerading as a movie



Watched Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” with family yesterday.

Who’s complaining when you have hot people like Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie as the lead actors. The movie is definitely easy on your eyes.

Watching the movie was a déjà vu moment. Shot mostly in California which was home to us for five years, I noticed that not much has changed in the Gold Coast since the 1950’s-60’s.

Hubby was yawning as I’ve never seen him yawn before in any movie. He slept all through “Ae Dil Aye Mushkil” last, laughed heartlessly when Shahrukh Khan mouthed a few intense romantic dialogues about one-sided love.

Here he was resting his head on my shoulders for a while, glancing at fellow audience for a while, and peering into the screen for a while.

“What do these people understand about the movie?”

“Do you understand the movie?” I asked.

“What’s there to understand?”

“Then, stop wondering for the rest of the audience here, okay!”

To his credit, he’s a walking-talking encyclopedia on Hollywood movies and music. And he loves coming up with snarky remarks. He did it last with Gully Boy, dismissing the movie.

“Doesn’t Brad Pitt look a bit like Enrique Iglesias?”, me almost drooling.

Pin-drop silence from the other half. But not for too long.

“Bah! Too much screenplay for nothing.”

Now, I’m woken from my sleep. “Huh?”

“Too much screenplay for this nonsense. Nothing’s moving.”

“Go and get something to eat if you’re bored.”

He still sits put on his seat. Yawning.


The movie is inspired by old-world Hollywood and loosely woven around the murder of Sharon Tate, Hollywood actress and wife of director, Roman Polanski, who was brutally murdered in a group massacre by the Charlie Manson cult group. Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are fictional characters.

What worked 

I liked the boys definitely. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were thoroughly enjoyable to watch in the movie.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, a man with big Hollywood dreams. He’s currently going through a limbo phase. He’s come so far on his own steam. But the going is rough for him at present. He’s emotionally messed up and shit-scared about what his future looks like ahead. Rather he’s scared about failure. He could well be out of Hollywood for good. Sooner than expected. Brad Pitt, who plays his stuntman, Cliff Booth is also his sanity-keeper, cheerleader, and brother from another mother.

I liked the anti-climax. Hubby wasn’t impressed at all by Tarantino’s masterstroke in it though. But, I was rolling off my seat in laughter. I wasn’t the only one. The entire audience was in splits except for my hubby, who looked at me in shock and disbelief.

“There are some genuinely good comedy movies whose subtle jokes people don’t catch and get. And this trash gets laughs. C’mon!”, says hubby rolling his eyes.

“That was insane.”, still laughing my gut out. Also in the same breath, “Wait a minute! Isn’t it too violent for viewing?”

Then, I was confused whether I should be laughing or feeling repulsed.

Should I be laughing to THAT? 


What didn’t work 

Margot Robbie who plays Sharon Tate, didn’t have much to do though she was omnipresent. She is reduced to a starry-eyed pretty wall-flower. Considering that she was a real character who met a brutal end, it would have been interesting to know the real Sharon Tate. What was her relationship with Roman Polanski like?

Okay so Brad Pitt is the epitome of cool in his portrayal of Cliff Booth. He’s deliciously charming. But, his character is sorta creepy. A man who killed his wife because she was sorta annoying. Stomach that!

The movie is slow. It can be a snoozefest, especially if you are overworked and sleep-deprived.

Alas! “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” ends up being all style with little substance. Don’t look for too much meaning, sense, and order in the movie. It’s a random collection of scenes and musings from a director who is not bound by any rules. Including taking the liberty to take potshots at Bruce Lee. Fans, you are warned.A below-the-belt joke on a dead Hollywood legend and possibly, racist too.

Yes, the black comedy anti-climax was the salvage point of the movie. But it diluted the seriousness of the real-life infamous murder of Sharon Tate and her group in her residence at the same time. It’s hard to laugh at a murder that was so devious and real.

But that’s what “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” does.

“The movie is a spoof.”, I quipped.

“Of what?”, smirks hubby.

“Of Hollywood dreamin’!”

“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” is a dark parody on Hollywood dreams. It’s like a Halloween party you know! Where you deride and mock dead people literally. Yet it’s all very cool and everyone’s having a perfectly jolly good time.

Final thoughts

While “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” got a thumbs-down from hubby, it worked in parts for me. Random and boring mostly, weirdly entertaining in parts.

There’s nothing wrong with vague and random. In fact, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a classic example of how to do black comedy right. The movie was poignant, and hilarious at the same time, with a vague ending. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” seems lazy and lousy in comparison.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” could have been a lot braver if it dared to explore the truth. Instead it takes a very cozy and safe approach by showing the superfluous, but not telling what really matters at all.

What if there was more to the murder than just a hippie cult ploy?

What if there was a shady, murky conspiracy and unholy nexus among some vested groups?

What if…..?



Default image
Tina Sequeira
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. She is passionate about tech, creativity, and social justice—dabbling in and writing about the same.

No comments yet

  1. Many people didn’t like the movie because they werent aware of the history behind these real life characters. Still I would say it was far from being the best work of Tarantino.
    #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia #MyFriendAlexa

    • I knew the background, Manas and I still thought it was a lame movie. There were few good scenes but it cannot make up for the movie. Not Tarantino’s best as you rightly said.

  2. I was sad to have missed out on this movie. Loved your review and glad didn’t pull my husband to watch it. I will watch it someday in solace on netflix or prime video! And, yeah I agree Brad Pitt resembles Enrique now!

  3. Yeah, I laughed too, but sort of hysterically. It was my first Tarantino because gore usually freaks me out. On the whole I liked it, but Sharon Tate’s character should have handled a lot better. As it was, he story was silly.

Leave a Reply