Written by Yosra Osman

Arts

Review: The Hateful Eight

Tarantino takes on a new genre with some familiar faces. So what did Yosra Osman make of it all?

Samuel L Jackson is among the familiar Tarantino faces in The Hateful Eight.

Samuel L Jackson (as Major Marquis Warren) is among the familiar Tarantino faces. Photos: The Weinstein Company.

Take eight horrible people, stick them in a log cabin in the middle of a blizzard, and wait for the ensuing bloodbath. So goes The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s latest film to fire its way into cinemas.

At the beginning of the film a stagecoach is trying to make its way through severely snow-ridden mountains. In it sits John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter, who is taking Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a supposed criminal, to Red Rock to be hanged.

They are somewhat reluctantly joined by another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson), and former army man Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). When the blizzard gets too much, they must take refuge in Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stopover where there are some interesting, and probably bloodthirsty, guests inside.

“The reasons the hateful eight are so hateful are touched upon, but you get the feeling that the film doesn’t actually care – it’s more about how entertainingly they can all do away with one other.”

Superfans of Mr Tarantino will love this film, in which he embraces the classic Western genre and adds his own unique flair. Take Reservoir Dogs and put it in a snowy Wyoming, and you’re pretty much halfway there.

What’s particularly great about Tarantino is how much his love of cinema, and particularly genre cinema, translates to the screen, but in his own style. Even within the first 10 minutes you can tell that this is classic Tarantino: throughout the dialogue is sharp as always, the set pieces are long and tense, and, obviously, there’s more than the odd splattering of blood.

With some fantastic cinematography by Robert Richardson it looks good, and with an original score by Ennio Morricone (uncommon in a Tarantino film), it also sounds good.

What’s more, with a cast list including Jackson, Russell and some standout performers such as Bruce Dern and Tim Roth, you know you’re in for a good time. The performances are, across the board, a riot. Much of the film is set in the log cabin, meaning you get a real sense of the claustrophobia and tension facing these individuals. Leigh has been getting many of the awards nominations, and she is brilliant, but they all have their moments. Goggins in particular is fantastically entertaining to watch.

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Tim Roth (Oswaldo Mobray) and Walton Goggins (Chris Mannix) face off over the last blanket.

Nevertheless, with the expected brilliance, comes the expected irksomeness. No, I’m not talking about the violence against Leigh’s character, which has been the topic of some debate. I don’t think her callous beatings are an act of misogyny on Tarantino’s part – quite the opposite. She’s actually on a level playing field in that Tarantino hates all his characters: they are all sadistic, horrible people, and they all get their comeuppance one way or another.

Nor does Tarantino’s strange fascination with the N-word upset me; I find it more peculiar than offensive, and I’m not sure it is as subversive as perhaps intended.

No, my gripes are more general. Firstly, the film could be shaved by at least half an hour. Secondly, Tarantino’s venture into any political commentary is a bit too mixed up in all the other stuff happening to be taken all that seriously. Unlike his last couple of films, Inglourious Basterds (where Jews fight Nazis) and Django Unchained (where a former slave fights a slave owner), there isn’t such a coherent political message. With the film set in the post-Civil War era, tensions are referenced but not fully realised. In other words, the reasons the hateful eight are so hateful are touched upon, but you get the feeling that the film doesn’t actually care – it’s more about how entertainingly they can all do away with one other.

And so I have to agree that the film is entertaining, quite thrilling in places, and most will really enjoy it. Despite an indulgent approach to storytelling, you have to hand it to Tarantino: no one does cinema quite like he does.

@yozzie_osman

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Written by Yosra Osman

Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions