Film Review – Babylon (2022)

Title – Babylon (2022) 

Director – Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) 

Cast – Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li, Jovan Adepo, Tobey Maguire 

Plot – Follows a group of Hollywood players as they traverse the changing movie scene of the 1920’s into the 1930’s as silent movies begin to be overtaken by the new and exciting talkies of the future. 

“Seems like a nice place”

Review by Eddie on 06/02/2023

The past decade has seen writer/director Damien Chazelle go on some type of hot streak run that started with 2014’s indie smash Whiplash, moved to musical behemoth La La Land, flew to the moon with the underappreciated but brilliantly realised Neil Armstrong biopic First Man and has now danced its way to one of the most unfortunate box office bombs of recent memory Babylon, a huge swing of a film that takes a no holds barred approach in its journey through early Hollywood of the 1920’s and 30’s. 

For anyone under any illusions, Babylon explores the golden era of Hollywood the same way in which Boogie Nights delved into the adult film industry and Wolf of Wall Street threw us into the financial whirlwind of New York City, meaning that Chazelle’s ambitious adrenaline rush of a studio picture is an unrelenting movie going experience that will absolutely not be for everyone tastes but right now as it stands, its a mighty shame critics seemed to have taken too Chazelle’s spectacularly staged epic, that one suspects will face major revaluations in the years to come. 

Opening with what can only be described as one of the most eye-popping pre-title beginnings one would ever hope (or not hope) to see, Elephants and pogo sticks included, Babylon’s first hour is a sugar rush of unrivalled proportions as Chazelle’s ensemble of characters enjoy Hollywood partying at its most carnally minded, frantic movie sets that may have bypassed OHS protocols and some of Chazelle’s trademark writing genius that perfectly combines with Linus Sandgren’s breathtaking cinematography and Justin Hurwitz’s jazz infused score that is unlikely to leave your brain for sometime following the conclusion of the film. 

It’s a cinematic arrival that’s hard to put into words but one thing for sure is its unlike anything we’ve seen quite like it before and while its hard for the film to ever truly reach the same level of unexpectedness and wildness there’s not many moments of this 3 hour plus epic that don’t engage in some way and Chazelle’s ability to have Babylon work as a genuinely hilarious comedy, a touching drama, a musing and tribute to the art-form of movies, expose of the often unspoken underbelly of Hollywood and even in one nerve shredding sequence an out and out horror, is a feat only few directors could ever hope to accomplish. 

Throughout all of this mayhem it’s easy to forget that Babylon also features some noteworthy turns from both its proven stars and its up and comers, with Brad Pitt as ageing leading man Jack Conrad and Margot Robbie as uncontrollable up and comer Nellie LaRoy standouts, with Mexican actor Diego Calva getting a major break as wide-eyed dreamer Manny Torres with Jovan Adepo much the same as African American musician Sidney Palmer, with Chazelle once more proving to us all that he’s an actors director, able to draw out the best from his cast amongst his own dreams and ambitions. 

Since Whiplash burst onto the scene almost a decade ago it was clear Chazelle (then still aged in his 20’s) was a superior talent and his done nothing since that would suggest anyone should’ve thought otherwise at the time and while Babylon may have its flaws and may miss a few of its swings, overall Chazelle’s high reaching and ambitious ride is the exact type of rare big budget feature we should be thankful to see in a sea of films reaching for low hanging fruit and hoping to appease the masses. 

After all this is Hollywood, warts and all, strap in and enjoy the ride before everyone else realises they missed their chance in the years too come. 

Final Say – 

At times insane, other times heartfelt and at all times taking its audience on a journey they’ve unlikely been on before, Babylon makes no excuses for what it is and while it might not stick all its landings across its multiple story threads and ideas, Damien Chazelle’s spectacular effort is an ambitious modern masterpiece of madness and creativity. 

5 unfortunate roommates out of 5 

7 responses to “Film Review – Babylon (2022)

  1. You’re probably right when you say that it’s piece of virtuosity full of good cinema. But I stayed aside that carousel. Maybe one day It’ll be obvious for me it’s great but for now I’m off.

  2. That was probably the most positive review I have read for this movie. I am glad you liked it that much. I will probably watch it once it hits a streaming service, though, because I have been focusing on watching the Best Picture contenders in theaters.

    • I had a lot of fun with this film and was really refreshing watching something to unique and happy to take risks.
      If you do get a chance it’s worth a big screen treatment but I know it hits streaming in a few weeks time also.

  3. Great review as ever gents! Really glad you appreciated the film and I liked your allusions to Boogie Nights and The Wolf of Wall Street! I think you’re right that Babylon will receive revaluation in the years to come.

    • Thanks mate. I really hope this one gets a chance to live a much more larger life outside of its cinema run, in some ways it’s a shame though as it really shined on the big screen!

  4. Pingback: The Movie Guys – 2023 Oscar Predictions | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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