Advertisement
HomeFilm‘Babylon’ review

‘Babylon’ review

After delivering box-office magic with the likes of ‘La La Land’, ‘Whiplash’ and ‘First Man’, writer/director Damien Chazelle upscales his big screen vision once again with ‘Babylon’, a gloriously excessive ode to classic Hollywood. Think of an 18-rated ‘The Artist’, with a dash of ‘Mulholland Drive’ thrown in, and you have an idea of what to expect here. Depicting all the glitz, glamour, debauchery and decadence of the era, the story follows various characters as they carve their own paths to stardom.

The sensational Margot Robbie shines as Nellie LaRoy, a wild-child actress looking to make it big in Tinseltown. Brad Pitt is on the flipside of that coin as Jack Conrad, an established box-office superstar who must adjust with ever changing times. When he hires Manny Torres (Diego Calva) to be his assistant, the three navigate the magical and dangerous world of Los Angeles – a vibrant and sometimes nefarious beast that will swallow up anyone indiscriminately and take no prisoners.

Margot Robbie continues to amaze with every project she takes on, and leads the film with verve and style. She is wonderful as Nellie and completely captivates whenever she’s onscreen. Brad Pitt is effortlessly good as Jack – a true golden age Hollywood star with bags of charisma and charm. The movie is mostly told from the point of view of Diego Calva’s character Manny, and he handles this mammoth task with an assured touch, bringing the viewer completely into this crazy world.

The amazing ensemble includes Jean Smart as a trade reporter, Olivia Wilde as one of Jack’s fed-up soon to be ex-wives, and Jovan Adepo as a band musician who might be able to take that next step in his career. Other highlights include Li Jun Li in scene-stealing form as entertainer Lady Fay Zhu. Eric Roberts, P.J. Byrne, Olivia Hamilton, Max Minghella, Lukas Haas and a particularly creepy cameo from Tobey Maguire also help propel this into must-see territory.

‘Babylon’ is a large-scale spectacular vision that needs to be seen on a big screen in a cinema to get the full effect. It’s a visual onslaught in the best possible way – with vibrant, colourful and quite beautiful imagery contained in every inch of every shot. The opening scene taking the viewer through a debaucherously lavish party is quite spectacular and starts the film off with a lot of pace and urgency – something that the rest of the film tries to maintain throughout its long 3hrs 9mins runtime.

With all of Chazelle’s work, characterisation is key and ‘Babylon’ is no different. This sprawling story has a lot of threads, but each one is explored very well. Apart from the three main characters of Manny, Nellie and Jack, every supporting character is fleshed out and compelling to watch. Even small scenes such as an annoyed sound engineer striving for silence onset, or one of Nellie’s angry co-stars (Samara Weaving) worrying that she’s stealing the limelight are all brilliant fun to delve into.

‘Babylon’ is filmmaking as it should be – a bold, brash and ambitious endeavour that pays homage to a bygone era of Hollywood. This period of time was very much like the wild west in terms of pioneering key moments in film history, whilst the studio system rule over LA is well observed here too. The finale might lose a bit of momentum right at the end, but for the most part this is a wonderful viewing experience that fully captures the magic and the darkness of the golden age of Hollywood. The ensemble are incredible and with Damien Chazelle’s unique energy apparent in every frame, ‘Babylon’ is the first must-see movie experience of 2023.

Cast: Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, Eric Roberts, P.J. Byrne, Olivia Hamilton, Max Minghella, Lukas Haas, Olivia Wilde, Tobey Maguire Director: Damien Chazelle Writer: Damien Chazelle Certificate: 18 Duration: 189 mins Released by: Paramount Release date: 20th January 2023

Jason Palmer
Jason Palmerhttp://www.entertainment-focus.com
Jason is a film contributor for Entertainment Focus (EF) bringing you the latest news and reviews from the movie world.

Must Read

Advertisement
After delivering box-office magic with the likes of ‘La La Land’, ‘Whiplash’ and ‘First Man’, writer/director Damien Chazelle upscales his big screen vision once again with ‘Babylon’, a gloriously excessive ode to classic Hollywood. Think of an 18-rated ‘The Artist’, with a dash of...‘Babylon’ review