Beginning in the 1920s, Los Angeles, Babylon focuses on various characters currently working in the world of film and cinema. Some of these characters are already living what they call their best life, while others have desires, passion and ambition to make it huge in cinema. As we follow these characters, we get to witness the changes that occurred in cinema, such as the introduction of sound and audio, which came with excitement, problems and challenges. This is the story of a selected few who were once at the top of their game but, as time passes by, fall to a lower level in quality and vitality.
Among the cast are Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li and Jean Smart. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t be revealing much about the individual characters, but I will proudly announce that performances are all around unique and stunning. Brad Pitt is well-suited to his role, and it’s evident that the actor is having a great time here. Margot Robbie is yet again flawless and still manages to surprise audiences in various ways. Most importantly, Jovan Adepo (whom I had yet to see on-screen) was outstanding, and watching his dramatic performance was fantastic.
Visually, Babylon is a beautiful delight. There are plenty of unique visuals, making it stunning to experience on the large screen. With smooth tracking shots, great colours, solid details, an excellent soundtrack, and scenes with many background extras, it’s impossible not to be engaged by the visuals as there’s just so much to see. The opening includes a lengthy party sequence, which had my jaw dropping to the cinema floor.
The tone is set very early on, beginning with a bang. There are plenty of moments here that are loud, wild and perhaps, outrageous. Yet, the film also transforms into a profound dark tragedy. Granted, this story is not for the faint-hearted and contains severe amounts of nudity, drug references, profanity and scenes that are deeply intense and frightening. One scene, in particular, forced me to look away due to the grossness and uncomfortable feeling it created. As for the plot, I found it to be highly engaging for the vast majority. My investment in each main character was high as we see them tackling the changes in cinema and the significant changes to their world whenever time passes. Every single outcome here is unpredictable, and some moments are downright shocking. Still, I must confess that the final moments are also enriching, touching and encouraging.
Overall, without a doubt, Director Damien Chazelle understands the long-term power of cinema and its connection to those passionate about films. Chazelle brings something exciting and dramatic, taking audiences down a path that’s also profoundly intense. Performances are riveting; the same could be said about the visuals and excellent soundtrack, which brings the past to life. The biggest put-off for some viewers will be the long duration, which is felt in the third act and the strong themes and levels of nudity, violence, profanity, drugs, intense scenes, and the list goes on. However, as a movie fanatic, I’m proud to say that this film impacted me greatly. Without a doubt, Babylon is bold, inspiring, encouraging and wondrous.