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  • Writer's pictureJack Kritzer

Review: Babylon

Decadence, depravity, and outrageous excess lead to the rise and fall of several ambitious dreamers in 1920s Hollywood.

Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Brad Pitt, Li Jun Li, Jean Smart, Lukas Haas, Tobey Maguire

‘Babylon’ tells a story of the gruesome and harsh reality of an ever changing paradigm shift in Hollywood. Damien Chazelle and his masterfully selected cast created a beautiful tribute to cinema that will stand the test of time.

The film is centered around three main characters, who each have their own separate storylines that intertwine, some in ways greater than the other. Margot Robbie plays Nellie LaRoy, a confident and unrestrained aspiring actress who dreams of being seen on the big screen. Diego Calva plays Manny Torres, a man trying to get his foot in the door in the film industry so he can leave a mark on the world with something bigger than himself. Lastly, Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad, a successful and popular actor who now has to adjust to a new Hollywood where talkie films are becoming the norm.

Each of our main characters are in the pursuit of a lasting legacy, but the end of their journeys are a harrowing reflection of real life Hollywood icons that have since passed.

Margot Robbie gives the best performance of her career so far, she is endlessly entertaining in this film and it’s a complete joy to watch her mesmerizing talent be utilized to its fullest potential onscreen, which makes it even more difficult to watch her character make poor decisions which come with a cost for her, and those she keeps closest to her.

Brad Pitt is also fantastic in the film as well, his character has an evolution from a renowned Hollywood star, to having the entire future of his career in question, which made for some fantastic scenes, one in particular being between him and Jean Smart’s character. There’s an interesting conversation to be had about the lasting impact of cinema, the legacies we leave behind, and when it may be time to hang up the hat.

What may be the standout performance comes from Diego Calva. Manny Torres starts as a hopeful and hardworking young man who wants nothing more than to be apart of the films that have allowed him to escape from his daily life. The more opportunities he receives, and the more power he gets in the industry, the further into the darkness his character goes, where he’s forced to make some heinous decisions in order to protect the image of the studio, in order to promote the values that were considered “morally acceptable” at the time. By the end of the film we see a man who has given so much of his life to cinema, and we witness how full circle that’s come for him in a beautiful scene that displays how his experience is immortalized for the rest of time.

Through the stories of the characters in this film; Chazelle makes it clear that in order to thrive in this industry you have to be prepared to sacrifice the things that mean most to you, but the reward is well worth it in preserving a legacy that will mean so much to people all around the world.

As is typical in a Chazelle film; the score is absolutely fantastic. Justin Hurwitz has once again created another phenomenal score, full of energy and heart, that drive the heart of the film while simultaneously establishing that this is a relentless and high octane film.

The visuals are stunning, and assist in telling a story in a way that is not only bursting with love for this artistic medium, but creating a beautiful tapestry in every shot that will leave the viewer hooked into every scene.

Chazelle made another remarkable film, that is as dazzling as it is striking. I left the cinema with an even greater love and respect for film, and especially for all the filmmakers, actors, and crew members which have contributed to this medium in all the years past.

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