In association with The Grosvenor
The Hateful Eight is, appropriately, the eighth film from visionary director Quentin Tarantino, arriving on the heels of a series of controversies ranging from comments on police brutality that prompted a boycott from a number of police unions to a dispute with Disney over the right to screen the film at a famous widescreen movie outlet. So is the Eighth Tarantino movie worth the wait?
For a start, the stylistic and directorial choices are curious. The film’s unusual 70mm widescreen format looks great for snow-capped Wyoming vistas but ninety percent of the move takes place in doors. Large chunks of the film are devoted to exposition but still elements are left awkwardly unexplained, making an initial impression that this might be Tarantino’s weakest (and most self-indulgent) film to date difficult to dispel.
For an interminable 2 hours 45 minutes, the political subtext is either so on the nose as to be clumsy or so obtuse as to be almost indecipherable. By halfway through you’re numb to the violence which lacks the style of Kill Bill or the tension of Reservoir Dogs. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s prisoner seems interesting at first, threatening to play on the sympathies of her travelling companions, but her relationship with the other characters goes nowhere and she spends most of the film as little more than a punching bag. Samuel L Jackson and Walter Goggins both get some good material as a Union veteran and the son of a southern racist respectively, but aside from Tim Roth’s accent and Kurt Russell’s moustache the rest of the titular Eight are pretty forgettable. Even Tarantino’s trademark elliptical but intense dialogue notches up as many misses as hits, though Jackson nails all the right notes in one particular black-humoured monologue.
An evening in Tarantino’s company is never entirely wasted but after the unhinged thrills of Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight feels like a bit of a let down.
[Max Sefton – @MaxSefton]