Home Babylon (Subtitled)

Babylon (Subtitled) (18)

Cast: Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Olivia Wilde, Brad Pitt, Diego Calva, Margot Robbie
Genre: Drama
Author(s): Damien Chazelle
Director: Damien Chazelle
Release Date: 20/01/2023
Running Time: 189mins
Country: US
Year: 2022

Film assistant Manuel Torres is hopelessly smitten with ingenue Nellie LaRoy, who intends to torpedo her way to big screen fame. Their fates entwine in late 1920s Hollywood with suave matinee idol Jack Conrad and a motley crew of wannabes, leeches and hangers on including jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer, professional tittle tattler Elinor St John and alluring cabaret chanteuse Lady Fay Zhu, who writes intertitle cards for silent films.


LondonNet Film Review

Babylon (18) Film Review from LondonNet

In 2017 at the age of 32, Damien Chazelle became the youngest recipient of the Best Director statuette at the Academy Awards for his dizzying accomplishments behind the camera of La La Land. His virtuosity had been teased three years earlier with Whiplash, a psychological battle of drumsticks and frayed nerves starring Miles Teller and JK Simmons, but Chazelle’s self-penned valentine to old school Hollywood musicals was the perfect showcase for his directorial brio including a breath-taking opening song and dance sequence on a traffic-jammed Los Angeles freeway…

The richly deserved personal victory in 2017 may have been overshadowed by Warren Beatty opening the wrong envelope for Best Picture but Chazelle confidently inked his name in Hollywood’s chequered history that night. With Babylon, an exuberant valentine to the golden age of American filmmaking when the industry transitioned from silents to talkies, Chazelle’s reach finally exceeds his grasp. Over three hours, he conjures a whirling, hallucinogenic fever dream of sensory excess that crashes and burns, reignites, then blazes uncontrollably to cinders again.

It’s a white-knuckle rollercoaster ride with a big opening – namely the dilating sphincter of a distressed elephant about to jettison the contents of its bowels over charismatic lead actor Diego Calva and the camera lens – that refuses to pump the emergency brakes. In the midst of storytelling madness that careens from a razzle dazzling party festooned with drugs, debauchery and the aforementioned pachyderm to devastating personal loss, you have to admire Chazelle’s ambition and the film’s impressive technical credits led by glorious production design, costumes and composer Justin Hurwitz’s exuberant score.

The picture’s emotional heart is film assistant Manuel Torres (Calva), who yearns to rise through the ranks in Hollywood, starting with a lowly position working for suave matinee idol Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt). Manny is hopelessly smitten with ingenue Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), who intends to torpedo her way to big screen fame (“You don’t become a star. You either are one or you ain’t. I am!”). Their fates entwine with a motley crew of wannabes, leeches and hangers on including jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo), professional tittle tattler Elinor St John (Jean Smart) and alluring cabaret chanteuse Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li), who writes intertitle cards for silent films.

Babylon flings every conceivable bodily fluid and secretion at the screen as Chazelle romps through hit-or-miss comedic set pieces, culminating in a teary-eyed ode to Singin’ In The Rain. Striking vignettes occasionally land with emotional force like when Manny persuades Sidney to blacken his face using shoe polish to match the skin tone of co-stars (“Actors change their appearance for roles… It’s normal.”) Restraint isn’t in Chazelle’s vocabulary and the ensemble cast embraces the spirit of gung-ho abandon with fervour. The French-American filmmaker swings big and repeatedly hits himself in the face.

– Jo Planter


Popular on LondonNet


London Cinemas Showing Babylon (Subtitled)


From: Friday 23rd February
To: Thursday 29th February

No cinema infomation at the moment

From: Friday 1st March
To: Thursday 7th March

No cinema infomation at the moment

UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Babylon (Subtitled)


From: Friday 23rd February
To: Thursday 29th February

No cinema infomation at the moment

From: Friday 1st March
To: Thursday 7th March

No cinema infomation at the moment