Time appears to have stopped as Quentin Tarantino focuses his camera on every detail of that memorable era from posters to knickknacks to songs to television programs to the Playboy mansion. Immersed in the Hollywood experience, I could have sat in the theater for even longer than two hours and forty minutes.
The film unfolds over three separate days in 1969, an eventful year that included Woodstock, the first lunar landing, the Beatles last public performance, the Chappaquiddick affair, and the Charles Manson murder spree.
Initially known as “Tarantino’s Manson Movie,” the actual film veers in a different direction. In one review, it is described as a “Manson-adjacent story” … something to keep in mind as you watch.
While Charles Manson has a bit part and Sharon Tate is played by Margot Robbie, the primary characters are TV Western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).
The film revolves around Rick Dalton’s entitlement issues. The star of B-movies and guest roles on television, Rick desperately wants to get cast in quality films. Always loyal and ready to help with any task, Cliff boosts Rick’s spirits while accepting his own hand-to-mouth existence. I would have liked more details about Cliff’s intriguing and somewhat shocking back story.
Other A-list actors include Al Pacino as Rick’s agent Marvin Schwarz, Kurt Russell as the stunt coordinator, and Mike Moh as Bruce Lee. Dakota Fanning, Lena Dunham, and Austin Butler play Manson followers.
As I watched, I experienced the full gamut of emotions. I laughed at the many character quips and the antics of Brandy (a well-trained dog), I felt uneasy when Cliff ventured onto the Manson compound, and I held my breath several times during the last horrific scenes.
A masterpiece of a movie!