Director Damien Chazelle’s films create worlds like no other. Babylon is about the movie industry and it has lots of fictionalized characters who are fueled by drugs and glamor. Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie play the leads, and they are two who will definitely tango. Babylon will make viewers’ heads spin, but it may also challenge their gut with its repulsiveness.
Babylon is set in the 1920s golden days of Hollywood, when sound was just being introduced to cinema. Jack Conrad, played by Pitt, is a cinema tycoon, and he is one crazy party animal. Nellie LaRoy, played by Robbie, is the next big female actress talent, but she has drug problems. Manny Torres, played by Diego Calva, is an assistant for the projects involving Conrad and LaRoy. We first meet Manny when an elephant is being delivered to a party being thrown by Conrad, and it only gets crazier from there. Another quirky character is James McKay, played by Tobey Maguire. He’s in a supporting role, but one with some secrets that the audience will find surprising.
Babylon actually has many surprises, including a scenario where someone is fighting a snake in front of a party. Expect lots of drugged up mayhem, nudity, and all kinds of bizarre situations from the mind of Chazelle. But it becomes repetitive, and sometimes just plain silly. There are some amazing performances, but the frequent parties tends to be boring, especially in a film that’s just over three hours long.
Despite the moments of boredom, Babylon manages to weave some joy between the accomplishments and mayhem of its characters. But this is mostly just Hollywood movie people going insane with danger and fierce competitions for success. Conrad is Hollywood royalty with fame and money. LaRoy has the looks and the talent to rise through the star ranks, but will she be able conquer her drug addictions? It seems that everyone is out of control in Babylon.
Babylon is a film with some cinematic energy but, overall, I would call it just all right. It’s a film that is certainly not perfect, and I have some serious issues with it. I felt at times like Chazelle was almost trying to make Babylon seem like a Martin Scorsese film, and I think that its writing is over-the-top in places. It isn’t for everyone, and I personally found it rather overwhelming. Two and a half stars for Babylon.