Once Upon A Time In Hollywood should matter to women. And, not because film critics are calling writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s tenth movie a love letter to Hollywood.
In his latest work, Tarantino rewrites history and the brutal murder of pregnant Hollywood actress, Sharon Tate. Audiences know love letters are hardly Tarantino’s style. So while this film tones down the bloody body count typical of his shocking and riveting artistic work, the movie speaks more to women than critics or many women may realize. Here’s why.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood points a finger directly at Hollywood. All of Tarantino’s movies are about revenge. It’s his trademark. Set in 1969, the plot zeroes in on the golden twilight of Hollywood as it transitions to new American film and grapples with the brutal death of Tate. It rocked America and destroyed whatever innocence existed in Hollywood, if there ever was any.
In Tarantino’s story-line, Leonardo Di Caprio who plays Hollywood actor Rick Dalton, former star of the Western television series Bounty Law, doesn’t save Tate. He’s floating in his backyard pool oblivious to the violence as he listens to music on his headphones.
Rick’s best friend and former stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), is a war veteran who lives in a trailer with his pit bull, Brandy. He saves the day while dubiously (pun intended) high in a rather funny scene. Cliff is a Hollywood has-been who is really nothing more than a glorified driver for Rick. He’s a nice guy, just trying to get by with the occasional Hollywood gig.
It’s a perfect way for Tarantino to call out the real heroes who must put an end to the injustices of our world. Tarantino takes revenge on people like Weinstein who prey on the Tates in the industry. He kills the predators dressed in sheep’s clothing, like Charlie Manson’s gang. It’s not enough, as Tarantino confessed in a 2017 New York Times article, that he knew enough about Weinstein to do more than he did.
Tarantino started working with Weinstein in 1992, but broke free from him in this movie. Blood is still on Tarantino’s hands as bloody violence erupts at the very end of the movie when, through Cliff, he avenges Tate’s death. Maybe Tarantino is saying enough blood has been shed and the marginalized and disadvantaged don’t need a love letter. Instead, Tarantino breathes life into them. That’s what we must do – as women, as men, and as people.
Let’s master our stories and not look for fairy-tale endings. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is a masterfully wild farewell to Hollywood and the old American Dream. Men and women need to build our own happy endings. We can do it together if we call out the Masons and the Weinsteins. The anti-establishment and irreverent in Hollywood are suddenly very “in” and who better than Tarantino to welcome it and move us to action.
Tarantino is newly married to Israeli singer, Daniella Pick and expecting their first child. I can’t wait to see what this next chapter brings.