I don’t know what it is about Quentin Tarantino, but he just seems to be getting better and better with each film. He toyed around in his earlier films with the idea of westerns, incorporating them and other mash-ups of the genres he loves into each of his works, but here, he drops all pretense; this is a western that only Tarantino could possibly have made, and it couldn’t be more glorious. Django Unchained was the film that nabbed Tarantino his second screenwriting Oscar, and the first for which he was the sole writer, and it was a controversial decision to say the least, but it was one I completely agreed with. Tarantino has a completely unique mastery of the art of the screenplay; it may not be for everyone, but to disregard his skill and talent is to quite frankly be a blind person.
Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave who is located by bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), who promptly purchases him, frees him, and then trains him in the “art” of bounty hunting. After Django holds up his end in aiding Schultz in capturing a particular bounty, Schultz returns the favor by aiding Django in tracking down his still-in-bondage wife Broomhilda, currently in the possession of ruthless plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). I go into particular depth with the cast because aside from the screenplay, they are the major selling point in this film. Everybody involved is absolutely outstanding, from Waltz who won his second consecutive Supporting Actor Oscar for a Tarantino film, to DiCaprio who creates one of the best, boldest, and most iconic villains of 2012; everyone just brings their A-game to the table. The script is fantastic, the cinematography is damn near perfect for the subject material; really, anything that I could possibly call a flaw is more of an added touch to the uniqueness of the film. Now, normally, I’d take the exact opposite position, but this film doesn’t do it solely for the sake of being unique and calling itself groundbreaking; it is genuinely interested in what happens when you break the mold, and it always puts the entertainment factor first, and that’s why it works.
I watched this film along with my parents, and I can still remember, about halfway through the film, my mom turning to me and my dad in her chair, and simply saying, “This is a weird movie.” She wasn’t wrong; this is certainly a strange film when seen in the context of just about any other crowd-pleaser out there, but don’t let a comment like hers dissuade you. This is unique in the best of ways; a heady, verbose, suspenseful action-thriller, with absolutely perfect pacing and placement, and the know-how to capitalize on every second of its running time. Sure, it’s long, and most of the meat of the film consists of people talking, but Tarantino is smarter than to just have people talk; it’s the pregnant pauses, the moments that hover in the air, while the people deliver their dialogue line by precious line, that makes for the entertainment in this film. It’s the anticipation of something about to happen, and it doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to be too meta by just milking that and never delivering; this film delivers in every aspect, and every suspenseful moment is paid off in full on the back end. Getting more personal, it is my honest feeling that if you do in fact dislike this film, or at the very least cannot find something to like about it, then as a cinephile I would rather not care to get to know you. This is just everything that appeals to a seeker of fantastic film, and I’m frankly excited for whatever Tarantino has up his sleeve next.
Arbitrary Rating: 10/10