First Reviews Mostly Praise Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

Sony Pictures

Well, it’s looking very good if you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work.

The filmmaker’s ninth, and potentially penultimate, feature has had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival – and the audience was very pleased. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood received around a seven-minute standing ovation once the credits had rolled and the reviews that followed the screening made it clear as to why.

“Bold, beautiful and brutal,” “beautifully made,” “brilliant. ” Yes, the critics have loved what they’ve seen, with many praising the picture as up their among the director’s best. Although, to be fair, there are a few reviews out there that don’t quite deride the film, but point that it teeters on the edge of pointlessness and arguable bad taste with Sharon Tate’s inclusion.

The 2 hour and 39 minute film (as its current length stands; Tarantino may re-edit again for wide release) stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a fading television actor and Brad Pitt plays his stunt double, with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate.

Here’s a rundown of what the first reviews are saying:

[…] I just defy anyone with red blood in their veins not to respond to the crazy bravura of Tarantino’s film-making, not to be bounced around the auditorium at the moment-by-moment enjoyment that this movie delivers [..] It’s entirely outrageous, disorientating, irresponsible, and also brilliant.

The Guardian

There’s a gleeful toxicity here that will launch a thousand think-pieces ““ Pitt’s character is capital-P problematic, absolutely by design ““ but the transgressive thrill is undeniable, and the artistry mesmerisingly assured.

The Telegraph UK

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is beautifully made. Beyond all the ‘Tarantino-esque’ touches of the action, the banter, the violence, the constant movie references, there’s a real craft underpinning the film which is of its own.

Screen Daily

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is bold, beautiful and brutal. It’s Tarantino’s best film since Kill Bill, perhaps even since Pulp Fiction, and we all know what happened when that came to Cannes.


It’s silly, and overbaked, and beautiful, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I cried at a Tarantino movie in well over a decade. He and his actors lend the two characters’ respective moments “” one rising, the other falling “” just the right blend of mockery and pathos. These people are ridiculous, and we love them.



It’s also content to hang out with history, take liberties with the details, and allow co-stars Leonard DiCaprio and Brad Pitt to unleash a pair of endearing performances. Tarantino’s desire to salute the creative thrill of storytelling is an inviting and welcome presence in American cinema; his ninth feature suggests he really ought to work more often.


This curious fairy tale may not be the truth, and it may prattle on too long. But when its stars align, and they let loose with their unmistakable shine, Hollywood movies do seem truly special again.

Vanity Fair

By the end of the film, Tarantino falls back into some of his familiar tropes. […] But until that point, it is a star-studded joy to watch. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood doesn’t have a lot to say, in the end. And yet it manages to capture some of that old-time Hollywood movie magic.


The motormouth talkiness of his previous work is gone, giving the superb performances room to breathe and introducing melancholically middle-aged, elegiac notes into his sharp-as-ever screenwriting. It’s an elegance that lasts oh-so-damn-near the film’s whole buzzy, blissful run-time, before we crash out in a somehow inevitable blaze of gratuitous bad taste […]


And now we await the film’s arrival to make up our own minds. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, also starring Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Tim Roth, Margaret Qualley, Damien Lewis and the late Luke Perry, hits US cinemas on July 26 and arrives in Australia on August 15.

Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures