Let’s just get this out of the way right now: controversy, racism, blah blah blah. Never mind that I was, without a doubt, the only white person in the theater. Or the fact that the violence and racial slurs were aflyin’. Guys, that’s Quentin Tarantino. He loves to push the envelope and make his theater going audience uncomfortable, frightened, and often delighted. DJANGO UNCHAINED, while peppered with – dun dun dun – the n-word and almost unwatchable brutality, turned out to be one of my favorite movies of the year. Maybe of the last decade. A good movie will have you talking about it from the theater all the way home. A great film will stick with you for days. DJANGO is the latter.
Dr. King Schultz (the dazzling Christoph Waltz) is on a quest to find and kill three brothers by the name of Brittle. Being the savvy bounty hunter he is, King knows just how to find them: find someone who knows what they look like. On a cold night in the woods, in shackles and naught but a thin cloth to warm him, Django (Jamie Foxx) walks with four other slaves led by two men on horses. King uses his sparkling wit and a couple of bullets to negotiate the purchase of Django. In exchange for Django’s help, King promises to reunite him with his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). That means killing lots of folks and telling a few tales before Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), fearsome slave owner, invites them to his Candie Land Ranch where Broomhilda is.
PULP FICTION, FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS… Tarantino has always had an affinity for getting a rise out of people. Maybe that’s why he makes movies like this, but I really think he believes in every picture he makes. His work is indicative of his passion for film and DJANGO UNCHAINED is no exception. I was excited about this movie for months. Sure it’s controversial and a lot of moviegoers have been and will continue to wag a finger at the film. How very unfortunate that they can’t see past the taboo subject matter and recognize how actually brilliant DJANGO is. The 165 minute movie is velvety smooth and hardly seems so long.
But the real story here is our ensemble cast. I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet: Christoph Waltz plays the most charismatic bounty hunter I’ve ever seen. You love him because he’s kind, but also because he will straight up shoot a guy. He treats Django with the utmost respect and even protects him. For me, he stole the show and won my heart.
Leonardo, Leo… wow. This is a role that Leo hasn’t previously tackled. A chain-smoking, over-the-top racist slave owner who values money and power more than human lives. He captures the southern gentleman gone mad with power flawlessly and is even frightening at times. Jamie Foxx reportedly gave DiCaprio a pep talk on set when Leo couldn’t muster the meanness necessary for the role. I wish someone had given Foxx a similar talk. As our title character, Foxx is good, but not great. His chemistry with Waltz is his saving grace. The two take things from enjoyable to damn enjoyable.
This movie is extraordinary. It ventures completely outside the box to a place where I found myself uncomfortable and bewildered, but laughing all the while. Everyone gets their comeuppance in the end. The violence and subject matter can get a bit heavy at times, but overall DJANGO is a good bit of fun and sure to be an Oscar favorite.