Once upon a time in Nazi occupied France...
Running Time: 153 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18
Country: Germany, France, United States
Two years ago I was underwhelmed by the whole Deathproof/Grindhouse project but the build up to Inglourious Basterds, had left me hoping and praying for a real cinematic event and a return to form from Quentin Tarantino. The big film geek certainly did not disappoint.
The multi-faceted storyline follows a mass of different characters in German-occupied France, including professional Nazi-killer Lt. Aldo Raine (Pitt), orphaned Jew Shosanna Dreyfus (Laurent) and Col. Hans Landa – aka the ‘Jew Hunter’, as they meet, chat and invariably kill each other. They saunter towards the climax at a German film premiere in Paris where various players attempt to blow up the entire German High Command. Those expecting a classic war film will not find one here. This is very much in the mould of Pulp Fiction, where we are treated to a plethora of memorable characters and priority is given to dialogue over action. As is always the case with Tarantino, the dialogue has been painstakingly produced to be sharp, witty and showing no urgency with it’s rambling pace. When you do it as well as Tarantino, the 148 minute running time just flies by.
As decent as Brad Pitt’s slackjaw nazi-hunter is, he cannot match the magnificent performance of Christoph Waltz as the evil SS officer, Col. Hans Landa. With a range of perfect mannerisms, a faultless grasp of four languages and a violent temper hiding beneath a cheerful smile, Waltz perfectly portrays a classic evil Nazi villain. Being a Rob Brydon lookalike makes the character even more unnerving. These Nazis are not all typecast as identikit henchmen instead we see a whole range of Germans, from the infatuated Fredrick Zoller (Brühl) to an absurdly caricatured Adolf Hitler (Wuttke). It’s also the attention to detail where the film excels. The French speak to each other in French, the German’s speak to the French in French and some Germans speak German to French interpreters who then turn it into French for the French, and there are tens of other permutations how could he be bothered?
Now, breaking off from my semi-sycophantic ramblings, I have to wonder if this is a film I will be able to watch over and over and whether it has the staying power of Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. Also, why does Tarantino have an obsession with putting chapter titles into his films like they are so epic you need guiding through, otherwise you’d get lost in the glorious enormity of it all?
It's Got: Spot on dialogue, style, Mike Myers best performance in years (all five minutes)
It Needs: Less of the chapters.
Alternatives:Black Book, Pulp Fiction, The Dirty Dozen
Quentin Tarantino nails another genre with this stylised war flick.