The new trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, dropped earlier today ahead of the film’s Cannes premiere, teasing what looks like a wild fantasy version of Tinseltown in 1969. It was a time of free love, of mayhem, of murder; fertile ground for a filmmaker so obsessed with Hollywood legacies, smooth action, and intricate storytelling. But would it actually be good, or would Tarantino’s impulses get in the way of the sensitive material its attempting to adapt?
We’ll have to see for ourselves when the film is released on July 26, but for now we have the first reactions out of Cannes. And they sound mostly positive! Even the mixed reviews sound in line with what we know about Tarantino: that he’s a wildly divisive filmmaker. Here are some of the first reactions to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
First up, it looks like the film may be doing what many of us assumed all along: changing history as we know it. That’s not a spoiler, since the marketing has made it pretty clear that the events depicted in the film exist in a dreamworld version of Hollywood. The title even uses the phrase “once upon a time.” A few critics made note of Tarantino’s “Twilight Zone” world and how “historically dubious” the film is.
— Alex Ritman (@alexritman) May 21, 2019
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood is so gloriously, wickedly indulgent, compelling and hilarious. The film QT was born to make. The world is a more colourful place in Quentin Tarantino’s twilight zone. Round two, please. #Cannes2019
— Joe Utichi (@joeutichi) May 21, 2019
Others noted how the pulpy material is perfect for Tarantino.
Quentin Tarantino’s brilliant exploitation black-comedy Once Upon A Time In Hollywood finds a pulp-fictionally redemptive take on the Manson nightmare: shocking, gripping, dazzlingly shot in the celluloid-primary colours of sky blue and sunset gold. Review later #Cannes2019
— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) May 21, 2019
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD: fans of PULP FICTION and KILL BILL know what to expect from Quentin Tarantino and once again he delivers! A hip, cool joyride that injects a shot of classic Hollywood cool to the multiplex. Leave the kids at home for this one, folks! #Cannes2019
— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) May 21, 2019
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD: Tarantino wasn’t joking when he said this was the closest to PULP FICTION that he has come. He juggles a mosaic of characters and story-lines in this one, eventually stringing them together for a relentlessly playful and touching finale. #Cannes2019
— Jordan Ruimy @ Cannes (@mrRuimy) May 21, 2019
Some critics didn’t love the film or at least haven’t yet arrived at a solid reaction.
Seems like I am the only 1 in the twitterverse who was disappointed bye Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood. Except the ending. Which we have been asked not to spoil. Lots of feet and driving and old style tv and film, but no real plot, no real substance, no real relevance #Cannes2019
— Nanna Frank (@FrankNanna) May 21, 2019
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD is a meandering Tarantino hangout movie, plays w/history, celebrates the art of the TV western & the creative thrill of performance. DiCaprio & Pitt are better than ever. Lots of nostalgic Easter eggs. It’s fun! But manage expectations. #cannes2019
— erickohn (@erickohn) May 21, 2019
There will be many, many hot takes to come on the new Tarantino but I don’t mind letting mine cool off on the counter a little longer. I know it’s more relaxed than I was expecting, and that DiCaprio is terrific, funny and poignant. The rest, I’m gonna mull over. #Cannes2019
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 21, 2019
As expected, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Tarantino referencing other films and TV and old Hollywood and good times in the 60s. Digging into his past and showing us, through perfectly crafted cinema, his feelings about moviemaking and artists and the Manson murders and more.
— Alex Billington @ Cannes (@firstshowing) May 21, 2019
— Jacqueline @ #Cannes2019 (@THATJacqueline) May 21, 2019
Others noted that the film is actually one of Tarantino’s most sensitive and affectionate, which is definitely surprising given some of the early criticisms of the project when it was first announced.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood could easily be the film Tarantino wanted to make since forever. An affectionate take on a period lived through different screens. One should savour this contemplative bromance with a soul like has never done before with Tarantino. #Cannes2019
— Antonio M. Abate (@antomaaba) May 21, 2019
#OnceUponATimeinHollywood is a nostalgia trip — unexpectedly sweet even when expectedly violent, the perfect preface to a summer in L.A. Also the single most insane moviegoing experience: high-fived the guy behind me just to celebrate getting into the theater #Cannes2019
— Caroline Tsai (@carolinetsai3) May 21, 2019
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD: Why is no one tweeting about Margot Robbie? She’s the heart and soul of this film. Her Sharon Tate is the most humane and resonant character of the entire movie. Almost every scene she’s in is heartbreaking to watch. #Cannes2019
— Jordan Ruimy @ Cannes (@mrRuimy) May 21, 2019
— Max Borg (@IMDBorg) May 21, 2019
— Magdalena Miedl reicht's. (@mmiedl) May 21, 2019
Tarantino’s gorgeous Once Upon a Time in Hollywood lovingly recreates a showbiz period that is long past, of cowboys, manly men and crazy hippies. DiCaprio and Pitt are funny and brilliant, as is Margot Robbie as sweet Sharon Tate. It’s an elegy. #Cannes19 pic.twitter.com/Ml7GmyUqMM
— Anne Thompson (@akstanwyck) May 21, 2019
And would it be a Tarantino movie if people didn’t take notice of all the feet?
#OnceUponATimeInHollywood is a beautiful, brash rumination on the grime and beauty of Hollywood. It is a dirty, sensually realized feat, with many, many shots of dirty, sensualized feet. #QuentinTarantino #Cannes2019
— Jason Gorber – at #Cannes2019 (@filmfest_ca) May 21, 2019
— Scott Stevens (@TheManInCannes) May 21, 2019
I have a few hours to write on Quentin Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, and feel blessed not to have to churn out a hot take right away. So, so much to unpack in what is possibly QT’s most audacious and nostalgic work to date. (And so, so many feet). #Cannes2019
— Leonardo Goi @ Cannes (@LeonardoGoi) May 21, 2019
Those are a whole lot of varying reactions, so this definitely sounds like a Tarantino movie. Luckily for the filmmaker, even with some of the detractions, it still got a long standing ovation from the notoriously fickle Cannes audience.
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) May 21, 2019
We can’t wait to see where we land when the film hits theaters in July.
Images: Sony Pictures