Babylon is a wonderfully chaotic but inspiring film, which shows both the most exciting, impressive, and flashy side of early Hollywood and also the most depressing, bizarre, and desperate side. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land), here’s my review of the three hour film with spoilers ahead.
Starting off in the desert in 1926, Bel Air, we’re introduced to one of the main characters, Manuel, or Manny who’s a humble and sweet man, played by Diego Calva (Unstoppable, I Promise You Anarchy), who’s trying to transport an elephant to an elitist party – as you do.
Not even five minutes into the film, the elephant poos all over a man working with Manny; instantaneously you’re both shocked, stunned and completely confused – worried about the direction of the film and questioning what you’ve got yourself in for.
Early into the film, an over-the-top party is being held with topless women dancing, people taking drugs, having sex and you guessed it… the elephant makes an appearance.
At the party, Manny goes outside for a smoke, this is where we’re introduced to Nellie LaRoy, played by Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall street, I, Tonya).
As she drives up to the house, her car bashes into a statue; a car crash – just like her character.
High on something, Nellie argues with the security guard, however Manny saves her and gets her into the house party; something which will change her life forever as she is picked to go on set the next day, where her acting career takes off.
They sit and discuss how they want something more out of life – throughout the film they have a very sweet friendship as well as a will they, won’t they trope, although Manny loves Nellie from the moment he meets her.
Jack Conrad, played by Brad Pitt (Bullet Train, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) enters the party and everyone turns their heads, wanting to speak to him and be in his presence.
Manny and Jack spark an unsuspected friendship; Jack likes Manny and in turn takes him on set which helps him make a name for himself.
However, as Manny becomes successful, we see how he doesn’t even think about Jack and the kindness he showed him.
The film bombards you at times, without more than twenty seconds of silence and so many unusual scenes, such as Nellie being sick all over a man, a dungeon filled with a bodybuilding-rat-eating-masked man, not to mention Tobey Maguire’s horrifying character, who was, to be frank, hard to look at with his sunken eyes, yellow teeth and painted white face.
Young Hollywood was represented so bizarrely in this film; it was a completely absurd world, yet I loved each of the main characters for all their complexities.
With many messages, the most prominent being fame isn’t everything and beware of what you wish for; it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Both theatrical, yet meaningful and romantic, you’re transfixed the whole time and and you leave feeling mind blown.