Django Unchained (2013)

Django UnchainedIntercepting the Speck Brothers at a clearing in 1858, German-born dentist-turned-hitman Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) liberates a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx) who he believes possesses information that could help him collect his next bounty. Unbiased by American bigotry, Schultz enters into a partnership with Django that sees them bound for Candyland on a mission to reunite Django with bride Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who was sold separately to plantation owner John Candy (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The moral yin to Lincoln’s legislative yang, Django Unchained approaches the topic of slavery from a completely different, considerably more controversial standpoint. Part Inglourious Basterds crusade and part Kill Bill revenge thriller, Quentin Tarantino’s latest is one of very few films to tackle the subject head-on, in all of its vulgar, exploitative horror.

In many ways, Django Unchained deserves all of the acclaim, respect and awards consideration that it has been afforded in recent months. Almost everything about the film is brave; it’s unusual enough for a tent-pole release to feature an African American lead, let alone to watch one that casts arguably its most famous face as a hateful plantation owner, and re-imagines Samuel L. Jackson — noble Jedi master and mastermind of S.H.E.I.L.D — as a brainwashed house-slave.

While these two performances are undoubtedly the most obviously remarkable, they are not the only noteworthy turns in a film bursting with talent. Jamie Foxx does a superb job of carrying the movie, while Christoph Waltz remains one of the most watchable and charismatic actors working today. Kerry Washington too excels in perhaps the film’s toughest role, particularly considering her relatively limited screenplay. Only Tarantino himself  struggles to convince in his unfortunate cameo as an Australian bandit, but by now that’s par for the course.

Also impressive — if impressive is the right word — is the film’s sheer brutality. Whether you believe it to be honest or merely gratuitous, there’s no denying that Tarantino has succeeded in portraying slavery in a manner unlike any other film in recent memory. Playing fast and loose with racial slurs, the Klu Klux Klan and — perhaps most shockingly of all — something called “Mandingo fighting”, the discomfort is so overwhelming that it is actually a relief when things eventually descend into an OTT bloodbath.

And yet, Django Unchained is far from a perfect movie; it might not even be a particularly great one. Considering its 165 minute running time (making it Tarantino’s longest outing outside of his combined Kill Bill two-parter), Django Unchained is seriously lacking in the quotable dialogue and iconic scenes characteristic its cult director is renowned for, while an abrupt introduction and various temporal jumps hint towards a cut that might have been even longer. It feels strangely unrefined, with an unseemly narrative structure and an overdue finale that is strangely devoid of tension.

Despite their obvious differences, Django Unchained has more in common with Lincoln than first meets the eye. Both are undoubtedly worthy films packed with impressive performances and some nice touches, but they are also marred by intrusive soundtracks, meandering pace and their directors’ self-indulgent tendencies.

3.5-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Django Unchained (2013)

  1. Pingback: February 2013 – Snitches end up in ditches! | popcornaddict

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