So, I finally got around to seeing “Django Unchained” and, in all honesty, my reaction is, “Meh.” There were some stupendous visuals, starting with the first gunshot’s over the top evisceration of its target, though this particular trick got old by the end. Similarly, music was used really creatively and added to many scenes in a way that this amateur film viewer would call very Tarantino-esque. The acting was phenomenal and this really can’t be overstated. DiCaprio and Waltz were transcendent. Foxx did what I think he does best which is to deliver a quietly strong but understated performance, similar to “Collateral” which I loved him in. The editing and overall look and feel of the movie were fun, again, seemingly very Tarantino-esque, but similar to the over-the-top bullet explosions, got a bit tired by the end.
However, where I thought the film was weakest was what Tarantino was ultimately celebrated for: the story. I simply didn’t find it compelling. I didn’t really feel that there was a compelling story line that held my attention. It seemed disjointed and like a series of loosely cobbled together scenes for the first half before the culminating 45 minutes or so, which even there were a bit off center.
Of course, no review of the film would be complete without a discussion of the frequent use of the N-word, especially by someone as concerned with racial issues as myself. Frankly, I found it gratuitous and indulgent, which detracted from my enjoyment. It seemed wholly unnecessary for a film that made so many twists and turns from historical accuracy. It seemed as if it was used because it could be, which seems like a terrible reason to use a word with as vile a history and controversial a present as “nigger” has. I feel it unfortunate that a director as talented as Tarantino seems to be took it upon himself to needlessly court controversy and thumb his nose at whomever he was thumbing his nose at over something that I felt added nothing of value to the film.
So, that’s my nutshell review. I see why it was nominated for Best Picture. It was grandiose, took on a difficult subject matter, and showed mastery of some key pieces. But ultimately the story simply didn’t hold much for me and the gratuitous and unnecessary use of vile language was a turn off.