With an all-star cast led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva, 'Babylon' promises to be a lavish and thrilling exploration of the rise of Hollywood in the 1920s. But despite the impressive production, i.e. design, cinematography and music, the film ultimately falls short in its execution, leaving the audience with a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction.
Thus, Damien Chazelle's latest film 'Babylon' can be described as a dazzling and magnificent tribute to the golden age of Hollywood, which takes place in the 1920s during the transition from silent films to talkies. With a budget of $150+ million, the film is a feast for the eyes, with impressive production design, cinematography and music. Yet despite its grandeur, Babylon falls short of its promise as a compelling and nuanced exploration of the rise of Hollywood.
The film follows three industry players - a power star, a would-be starlet and an up-and-coming director - whose lives intersect in a wild and hedonistic entertainment. Brad Pitt star game Jack Conrad with his usual "smoothness" and charm, but the character is one-dimensional and without depth. Margot Robbie, as an aspiring actress Nellie LaRoy, delivers a fearless performance, but the character is poorly written and underdeveloped. Diego Calva, as a Mexican-American assistant Manny Torres, is the most likeable and relatable of the three main characters, but his bit feels forced and contrived.
One of the main ones the film's shortcoming is its lack of historical accuracy. Chazelle takes liberties with the facts and presents Hollywood counter-history, which focuses on the supposed excesses of the period but fails to capture the complexities and nuances of the period. The film also does not explore the impact of the transition to synchronous sound on the industry and the people who worked in it.
Another major problem with the film is its script. Chazelle's script is too much ambitious and tries to cram in too many stories, resulting in a disjointed and unfocused narrative. The characters are shallow and underdeveloped, and the dialogue is often clunky and forced. The film also has problems with pace, as the first two hours feel slow and boring and the last act rushed and contrived.
Despite its shortcomings, it has 'Babylon' its strengths. Cinematography of the film Linus Sandgren it is fluid and propulsive and captures the frenetic energy of the period. Music Justin Hurwitz is one of the year's best, with recurring character themes that give the film an operatic feel. The production design is also impressive, ranging between the feeling of authenticity and something larger than life. This is the real Hollywood!
In summary, 'Babylon' is a film worth seeing for its spectacle and technical achievements, but ultimately falls short of its promise as a compelling and nuanced exploration of the rise of Hollywood. It's a film that's high on style but low on substance, leaving audiences feeling empty and unsatisfied. The IMDB rating: 7.5/10 is high and unexpected, and slightly unjustified.
I recommend watching the film in the cinema, because as mentioned, you need a big screen to experience the gelding and experience the production.