Without giving much away, Damien Chazelle’s Babylon follows the progression of filmmaking in the 1920’s and onward as it transitions from silent to sound films. Throughout the movie, we see multiple characters and their journey to stardom as they each navigate the harsh realities of this creative and rambunctious world.
Read Also: Pinocchio: A Darkened Yet Child-like Twist On The Classic Tale
Getting right to it, I have to admit I had a hard time staying focused on the movie. The runtime of three hours is usually a cakewalk for me but in the case of Babylon, I could not help but feel every minute of it and caught myself checking the time more frequently than not. There were several moments that felt gratuitous and frankly, they didn’t really justify the 3hr run for me, and felt excessive and didn’t seem to add to the overall plot. There were parts of the movie that felt overly ambitious and redundant to the point where I was telling myself, “Yes, I get it. The 1920’s were wild. Let’s move on!”
However, I can’t deny how much I loved the dedication and love that was poured into the movie. Despite being fictional, Babylon explored some of the most groundbreaking moments in the art world that changed the way stories were told. To me, it’s crazy to think that so much of this happened just a century ago and the film feels like a colorful and obscene love letter to the art of filmmaking. My personal favorite moments were centered around the process of making a movie, the chaos that surrounds it, and the relief that comes when you achieve what you set out to do, no matter how small. And the original score by Justin Hurwitz is one of my favorites for the year and it perfectly encapsulates the energy of the movie.
The cast was certainly phenomenal as they gave their soul to this movie and the characters they portrayed. Brad Pitt was probably my least favorite performance but the story surrounding his character as well as that of Margot Robbie’s was intriguing to say the least. But if I’m being honest, as much as I loved her performance, I feel like Margot Robbie’s role continues to push her into being typecast as the same character and I’d love to see her be able to use her talents for something different. Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li were spectacular, but ultimately, Diego Calva stole the show as he took the focus off everyone and aimed it at himself.
No matter what, Babylon is a film that is perplexing for me as I have so many conflicting feelings about it. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it, either. I disliked some of the stylistic choices and unnecessary additions of scenes that made it drag on longer than I think we needed. And yet, the more I think about it, the more I liked it and had an understanding of it. I went from telling myself that Babylon isn’t a movie for me to having a strange and deeper appreciation for it.
It is not a perfect movie. It is messy and gross, but it also doesn’t shy away from the realities of what Hollywood was a century ago and how much of it mirrors what it is today while also showing how different it is. If you love the history of filmmaking, movies about making movies, or if you just love movies, Babylon is a must-watch. You might like it or you might not, there’s no right or wrong answer. But there’s no denying that this was Damien Chazelle’s way of expressing his love for the art of film.
Babylon receives 4 out of 5 Samosas.
Babylon is now playing in theaters.