Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
Running Time: 165 minutes
Having rewritten the end of World War II with INGLORIOUS BASTERDS Quentin Tarantino turns his highly-stylised gaze to slavery for DJANGO UNCHAINED.
Starring Jamie Foxx as the titular Django and Christoph Waltz as his saviour and friend Dr. King Schultz, DJANGO UNCHAINED is undoubtedly a fantastically brutal take on Tarantino’s misanthropic stance towards the slavery that stains American history however, the directors exaggerated use of the horrifically mainstream N-word ensures DJANGO’s look at drudgery is aimed to entertain rather than cast aspersions on America’s past.
All the Tarantino tropes are present and correct: over-stylisation, tremendous soundtrack, dialogue that explodes out the actors mouths and, of course, poor editing. Fortunately three positives trump the one negative ensuring DJANGO is a feast for the eyes and ears. Central to this are the performances: Waltz deservedly won the Academy award for his take on Dr. Schultz; Foxx is believable as he transitions from slave to hero through the bloated running time; Di Caprio, as plantation owner Calvin Candie seems to be having the time of his life, and Kerry Washington gives a vulnerable beauty to Broomhilda, but it is Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen who should take all the plaudits. Not since 1997’s JACKIE BROWN has Jackson put so much into a performance, he’s nasty, vindictive and loathsome as the senior house slave and holds the film together through its final third.
Under Tarantino’s single-camera eye the film looks beautiful; early on Schultz and Django travel in front of incredible backdrop, to incredible backdrop in spectacular costumes, with enough fake blood to make CARRIE blush. Once we arrive at Candie Land (Calvin’s plantation) the action moves indoors to a perfectly realised dining room, a claustrophobic kitchen, and wonderful drawing room – the latter of which is soon caked in counterfeit claret aplenty.
Quentin Tarantino is a director of style and substance. DJANGO UNCHAINED is probably his most spurious work to date in that it pertains to look at slavery, but is actually a love story set during the 1850’s. This isn’t a bad thing though, DJANGO is wonderfully written and performed, and in spite of its questionable (or lack of) editing tremendous entertainment.
Extras: A few really poor featurettes is disappointingly all you get for your money.