Rapid Reviews – Django Unchained [DVD]

This film is almost like a representation of how Quentin Tarantino is as a film maker: a superb writer but an ill disciplined director.

Branching in to a film genre that is derived from Spaghetti Westerns and being referred to as a ‘Spaghetti Southern’ by Tarantino himself, the film follows the story of Django, a freed slave turned bounty hunter in search of his wife. Quite a simple story line which is sprinkled with a touch of Tarantino so it has fantastic characters, scenes of brutal violence accompanied by scenes of carefully written dialogue. It is a visual treat but also a treat on the ears, with Tarantino showing us that he deserved his Academy Award for screenplay writing this year, being cleverly witty as ever.

The acting is top notch on all accounts, Jamie Foxx is very good as the lead role and had brilliant chemistry with Christoph Waltz. It’s the second occasion Waltz has worked with Tarantino and has received an Academy Award for his performance which is well deserved in this case, his acting is absolutely superb and he really adds depth to the character. Kerry Washington works well as the wife of Django who manages to be intriguing as a character who has the balance between being frail and strong willed. The other star in the cast for me however along with Waltz is Leonardo DiCaprio as the owner of a plantation. He is utterly fantastic but terrifying as well, playing someone who is bordering on psychotic.

In terms of directing it is the usual case of the Tarantino’s comic style violence, which does have some value in terms of entertainment but it does become very over indulgent towards the end where we have sequences that work well as action scenes but are tangential to the main story. The violence is as usual the sort that makes you cringe but feel excited at the same time because it’s surreal, but this does wear off towards the third act of the film. It’s a shame that the film has so many tangents that are unneeded but this is down to writing that allowed Tarantino to indulge himself. There are sequences of the film that could easily be cut out, including the sequence in which Tarantino himself actually makes an appearance with a rather odd accent that is difficult to understand.

The film explores some interesting themes, the most obvious of which are based around racism and the oppression of lower classes which Tarantino does handle sensitively to an extent. The main issue with the topics the film explores is the language used, specifically the use of the ‘N’ word which appears 104 times over a 165 minute period. Excessive is one word to describe it, but then some would describe it as accurate considering the film is based in a time when political correctness was considerably less important than it is today. I admire the fact that Tarantino wanted the script to be true to the time period and to represent people’s attitudes, however it was in the end something that modern audiences were uncomfortable with and weren’t ready for.

Overall I would give the film three and a half stars out of five, it was a mixed film because of the directing and the writing style Tarantino has but inevitably the film was too long and over indulgent. It was a shame that Tarantino couldn’t make the film shorter and better disciplined but it was still an enjoyable experience, and it was relieving to see Tarantino make a good film after his 2007 attempt at grindhouse cinema. I would watch the film again because it is good, it’s just not great.

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