Review: ‘Django Unchained’ (MA) *** and a half

 I’D hazard a guess that writer/director/bit player Quentin Tarantino and his actors and crew enjoyed making this vivid actioner that manages to be both alarmingly grim and cleverly comical.

It looks like a Western, but its main dramatic thread winds through the slave States in the South where in 1858, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation are historical events waiting to happen. That choice of period allows Tarentino to wallow in a tub of 21st-century political incorrectness while delivering a plot that white America may wish to forget but, I suspect, black America wants never to be forgotten.

Jamie Foxx plays slave Django who can identify three criminal brothers being pursued by bounty hunter Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Before the plot gets around to putting Schultz in the same area as those miscreants, Tarantino does a neat, if somewhat disjointed, job of bonding Schultz with Django whom he trains to be an efficient gunslinger.

The main action evolves on the plantation owned by Candie (Leonardo di Caprio), a truly evil 19th-century manifestation of the worst brutality of the Roman emperors. Candie exercises total powers over his slaves, including Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), Django’s German-speaking wife. Aha, so that’s what the film is about, true love requited after a bloodbath and big explosion!

It’s fun. My wife, a delicate soul who prefers to avoid screen violence, laughed a lot. And with good reason. Tarantino may have scattered linguistic and historical anachronisms through his film, but they don’t diminish its entertainment value.

At all cinemas

 

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