The Hateful Eight

LetterboxD review link

Two big things kept me from loving this film: (1) Tarantino’s discussion of race, capitalism, north vs south, justice, America’s moral character is short, unsatisfying and doesn’t feel tied to the characters themselves. (2) Daisy is nothing more than a punching bag. The character is redeemed only slightly by Jennifer Jason Leigh’s superb acting (she is downright scary), but she is the recipient of so much violence that never feels earned or justified. Her demise is brutal, almost pornographic.

My experience was also tinged by the crowd in the theater, and I imagine this crowd was typical of crowds around the country. One man in particular kept yelling “bitch” every time Leigh was on screen, there was laughter every time she was brutalized. Certainly every theater goer comes in with his/her own history, biases, prejudices, but to have a world view that legitimizes sexual violence and violence against women on screen by a putative cinematic auteur and Hollywood A-lister recently lauded for getting involved in social issues – that doesn’t sit right with me.

I enjoyed the acting, the cinematography, the experience of a roadshow, the beautiful Moriconne score (almost like a cover of a best-of Ennio Moriconne scores), even some of the long narrative diatribes in the first act. I was crossing my fingers that Sam Jackson would, for once in his career, not devolve to an angry black man, doing his part to set back American views of black men over and over again. I was disappointed that his character started in one place and ended somewhere completely different.

Ultimately this all seemed to serve no end other than gore, blood, violence, mayhem. If this is the nihilistic view of America Tarantino has to offer, I’m not interested. Alternatively, if this is Tarantino’s way of getting into the guts of American hate and taking us down with him, he seemed to do nothing more than splash around giddily, rather than actually explore or understand anything.