The Hateful Eight film review: Tarantino has made a maverick masterpiece

 
James Luxford
Samuel L Jackson rockin' knitwear in The Hateful Eight

★★★★★

Dir. Quentin Tarantino

Once you look past the numerous news headlines surrounding its release, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film is one of the filmmaker’s most ambitious to date.

Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L Jackson star in the story of eight strangers in post-Civil War America forced into the same cabin by a monstrous blizzard, each carrying a secret they’re ready to kill for.

Taking cues from old Westerns, his past films and a bit of Agatha Christie, myriad influences come together to create a film that will be different to anything else you’ve ever seen, in the best possible way.

The two-time Oscar-winning screenwriter sets up his whodunnit (or perhaps more accurately ‘whosgoingtodoit’) as a verbal chess game, putting eloquent speeches into the mouths of his well-chosen cast.

While it’s not a Travolta-level reinvention, Tarantino does bring out the best in Kurt Russell.

There are echoes of his ‘80s heyday in his performance as a famous bounty hunter, with Jennifer Jason Leigh superb as his snarling captive.

An oddly Christoph Waltz-like Tim Roth and the always verbose Jackson have their standout moments, but most impressive is Walter Goggins as a former Confederate soldier-turned-sheriff.

Channing Tatum pops up towards the end in a charming but brief role, clearly delighted to be invited to this blood-spattered party.

His decision to film in 70mm Panavision proves more than a nostalgia play, as those wide lenses create a sense of vast space within the film’s confined cabin set.

It’s a visual reminder of the distance between these untrustworthy companions that, along with sharp dialogue and sharper performances, makes every moment gripping.

At around three hours (depending on the version you see), and mostly set in one room, The Hateful Eight is a gritty and grim masterpiece showcasing a director steadfastly sticking to his own path.

At a time when an increasing number of films try to be all things to all cinemagoers, Tarantino fans can rejoice in the knowledge that one of the few remaining maverick filmmakers has lost none of his grit.

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