Inglourious Basterds (A)

Quentin Tarantino is a maestro – he orchestrates each of his films so skillfully and so effortlessly, weaving together stories that shock, invigorate and most of all entertain. Inglourious Basterds is probably the penultimate testament to that statement, a quirky exercise in straightforward and truly effective storytelling.

Two stories make up Tarantino’s epic. At the film’s heart despite what cleverly placed marketing materials may suggest, is Melanie Laurent’s vengeful Jewish character named Shosanna whose entire family was wiped out by the Nazis in a small farm in France. While her story plays out, we are treated to Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine and his group of Basterds, an elite squad trained and ordered to kill Nazis. The two parallel narratives are independent of one another and are laid out side by side building up to the explosive finale.

The acting ensemble is one of the impressive aspects of this film, allowing each character to be given definitive moments in the movie – and they are truly definitive. Christoph Waltz is Inglourious Basterds‘ savior, if not ironically a menace as a leading Nazi officer, with his commanding presence and charming yet evil onscreen persona. Laurent’s Shosanna is mesmerizing and enigmatic and certainly deserves attention, as well as Eli Roth’s small but thrilling role as the Bear Jew.

With the skill of a war tactician, Tarantino sharpens both sides of his knife and tells his two stories with utter precision. He has proven his knack for suspense and for creating excruciating tension, composing sequences that truly define what Inglourious Basterds is about – gutsiness.

Right from the beginning of the film we are treated to a masterclass of a screenplay, a loud and proud proclamation from Tarantino that this is his house with his unparalleled play of words and composition. This is a world he has created, and his universe is bloody fantastic; he rewrites history with no remorse and gives it back with an attitude. His comic book characters are vibrant and his dialogue witty as ever, giving Inglourious Basterds an edgy vision of the past.

In some ways we all want to believe his version of history is history itself – blatant, unforgiving and unpretentious. It’s too much of a joy Tarantino’s world – original and thrillingly bad-ass.

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