Babylon - Review
You Don't Become a Star. You Either Are One, Or You Ain't. 4.5 / 5
Directed by Damien Chazelle.
A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, tracing the rise and fall of multiple characters in an era of unbridled decadence and depravity during Hollywood's transition from silent films to sound films in the late 1920s.
Damien Chazelle realised he had one shot to make the craziest, loudest, most disruptive, most bombastic film that a major studio could ever think of releasing… and he threw everything at it. A tribute to Hollywood's past and the exaggerated chaos that came with the creation of a new art form births Babylon, a three-hour epic full of passion, creativity and numerous narcotics.
I have been a huge fan of Chazelle and his impactful directorial style for many years so anticipations were high going in, but after leaving the cinema I had no idea if my expectations were met, exceeded or fell short. The opening and closing sequences bookmark the film, overwhelming your senses with everything that makes the movies so exciting. In between, we meet a range of good, bad and ugly characters at the start or end of their Hollywood journeys just as the industry jumps into 'talkies.'
The laid back character-focused approach of Boogie Nights & Once Upon a Time in Hollywood collides with the high octane energy of The Great Gatsby & The Wolf of Wall Street making a Frankenstein of a final product that I couldn't quite get enough of.
It takes some unexpected turns, sprinting through scenes before stopping for extended moments of breath like while the cast tries to record one scene with a newly installed microphone. Each character brings a fresh perspective and personality to match their Hollywood experience.
Set to another belter of a score by Justin Hurwitz, the best way to experience Babylon is to sacrifice yourself to it and go along for the frenzied ride.