Weather recently took a turn for the worse, so I decided to spend my Saturday afternoon tucked away in my local cinema. At a length of almost three hours, Quentin Tarantino’s latest is certainly value for money. It is not very useful, however, if one views it primarily to escape from the cold. The film is set in a very wintry Wyoming, and to add extra atmosphere my cinema turned the room temperature down to freezer-like conditions.
Bypassing all that, though, The Hateful Eight is a thoroughly enjoyable film. Once you get past all the violence, that is. Of course going to see a Tarantino film and then complaining about the violence is like going to McDonald’s and then complaining about the lack of healthy options on the menu. Violence is what Tarantino does. But particularly in this film, it sometimes distracted me from the story. For the sake of the narrative, some characters “need” to die – no spoilers, I promise – but they don’t need to die as messily as they do. Perhaps I’m just turning into a sentimental old wreck, but I would love to see Tarantino surprise us all by making a film in which people’s heads do not get blown off.
Having said all that, I loved the film anyway. I’m always impressed by Tarantino’s ability to create complex characters and cast actors which are perfect to embody them – this is also the reason why Jackie Brown, seemingly ignored by many, is my personal favourite should I have to pick one from his oeuvre. The acting in The Hateful Eight is great as ever. From Channing Tatum to Jennifer Jason Leigh, everyone transforms into a layered character with a truly unique personality. Furthermore, they come together in a drama of Shakespearean proportions. And just when the narrative seems to slow down a bit too much, Tarantino himself breaks in to treat us to yet another trick he has hidden up his sleeve. Which I won’t tell you about.
On paper, the story of eight people who get stranded in a haberdashery seemed a bit boring to me. Silly me. Because no matter what your opinion about Tarantino is, he has never produced a boring film. One of my colleagues assured me that the film would cause me to leave the cinema thinking: “What?!” She was right. It’s perhaps not the most eloquent of responses, but I can’t think of a statement which better sums up how I felt when I made my way back home. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.