Certificate – 18
Directed By – Damien Chazelle
Starring – Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li
Running Time – 189 Minutes (3 Hours 9 Minutes)
WHAT A FUCKING MOVIE!! And at three hours, it’s a lot of movie. I was in awe of everything director Chazelle achieved from the moment it started.
To set the stage, Babylon focuses on a list of characters as we witness the final years of silent cinema as the talkies are about to rise and how it changed Hollywood. It’s Singing In The Rain with just more sex, nudity, swearing, and so many drugs. Now we know why it was called the roaring 20s.
I loved this film from the opening 30 minutes which is so massive, over-the-top, excess that I felt the sweat and claustrophobia in the room. Whilst the most introverted would want to attend a party this large.
It’s one of my top three scenes throughout the film. You can witness the story changing through the parties, and it must’ve been discussed while they were writing the script.
Other moments that took my eye include Robbie’s Nellie LaRoy shooting her first-ever talking scene. Again, the claustrophobia grows as the studio’s heat and lights hang over everyone, especially with the cinematographer stuck in a sweatbox. As the stress increased, and for me, it was amazing to see how much power the sound engineers had within the early years of the talkies.
The scene is so perfectly done. P.J. Byrne kills it as a producer losing his shit and wanting to get the first scene in the can, and I cheered like it was Spurs scoring the match-winning goal in the 90th minute.
Elsewhere, the whole cast is fantastic. It’s my favourite Pitt performance as we see a silent movie superstar’s light fading quickly and how he must deal with that. What was my favourite scene with Smart’s Hollywood reporter Elinor St. John perfectly sums up his journey as she gives him a true heart-to-heart that while the times are changing, Jack Conrad’s name will still be echoed in history.
Robbie is also great as LaRoy as a scarlet of the industry, but came at just the wrong moment to fulfil her full star potential and, most of the time, a loveable giant pain in the arse.
Meanwhile, Manny Torres (played by Calva) is our eyes of the film as we can all relate to his journey and rise in the industry. Still, unlike Adepo’s Sidney Palmer, who enjoys gaining a bigger profile, he changes who he is as a person.
This is why I loved Adepo’s performance. It’s my favourite performance and story of the whole three hours as his first and only love is his music. When Hollywood tried to strip that away from him, in a heartbreaking and uncomfortable moment as you watch him play in pain and humiliation, the payoff is worth it and makes you happy.
Finally, Li Jun Li’s Lady Fay Zhu is a character I love for her badass strength. She was a queen before things changed, and her decline was due to discrimination. Her scene with Pitt’s Jack near the end of the film could easily match his scene with Smart.
Linus Sandgren’s cinematography is stunning. You can feel old California’s heat, sweat and dust. The use of light and colour shines through the screen.
As someone who wants to get into the film industry, I’m glad a film like this exists, and Chazelle was able to do it his way. Like La La Land, it’s a love letter to the entertainment we love and hold close to our hearts.
The blu-ray does have a few bonus features. They include a featurette on the story behind the film. There are also featurettes on the costumes and score, as well as deleted and extended scenes.
Simply, I FUCKING LOVE BABYLON