BABYLON – A Review by John Strange
The end of the year is the time for big flashy films designed to garner Academy Award nominations. Babylon, the new epic film by Damien Chazelle, is one of these films. Clocking in at three hours and eight minutes (without an intermission), the film stars Brad Pitt, Margo Robbie, and Diego Calva.
This film encapsulates the heyday of the silent film era of Hollywood as it slowly evolves into the modern, sound, era. In other words, parties that were completely devoid of taste and filled to overflowing with drugs, alcohol, and debauchery of all sorts. And films that required “broad” acting strokes to make up for the lack of spoken words.
Into this mix, we follow venerable (i.e., aging) lead actor Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), young aspiring actress Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), and Manuel “Manny” Torre (Diego Calva), a Mexican-American film assistant who is also an aspiring film star.
Babylon is stark and visually breathtaking as we watch the silent film era beating itself to death against a wall of sound. At times, the film is like a chaotic kaleidoscope filled with bare boobs, extravagant filmmaking, and well, history. One filmgoer described it as a combination of Singing in the Rain and Caligula!
I expect the film to do okay in awards season, though the competition this year is going to be incredibly rough. Except for the rather inane montage towards the end of the film which I suspect was supposed to tie the film up with a pretty little colorful bow, the film is pretty good. I would have to say that it’s a 3.5-star featuring eye-opening cinematography by Linus Sandgren.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, P.J. Byrne, Lukas Haas, Olivia Hamilton, Tobey Maguire, Max Minghella, Rory Scovel, Katherine Waterston, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Eric Roberts, Ethan Suplee, Samara Weaving, Olivia Wilde
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality)
Selig Rating: 3.5 Stars
Runtime: 188 Min.
Release Date: 12/23/2022
Local Release Locations: Strike + Reel, AMC Firewheel 18, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Richardson, Studio Movie Grill (Spring Valley Rd.), B&B Theatres Wylie 12, Regal UA Galaxy – Dallas, Cinemark Central Plano, Studio Movie Grill (Royal Ln.), Cinemark Legacy and XD, Studio Movie Grill (W. Park Blvd.), Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Lake Highlands, Village On The Parkway 9, AMC NorthPark 15, Cinemark West Plano XD and ScreenX, Angelika Film Center & Café – Dallas
Movie Site: BABYLON Official Site
Trailer: BABYLON Trailer
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.