← Back to Reviews
(2022) - Directed by Damien Chazelle
Showbiz / Drama
I always wanted to be a part of something bigger.

Damien Chazelle is considered Hollywood's newest voice, thanks to his recent critical and commercial success with Whiplash and La La Land. Chazelle movies are one of those things that one is all too eager to wait for, like the next One Piece arc. It eats at some people when they hear about the announcement and know very little. Every shred of info is cherished like a gold coin, and when the movie finally comes out, does it live to the hype of its plethora of award nominations like Chazelle's newest outing?

Alright... I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this movie. I knew very little about the plot, only the setting and the most basic basics. But now I can tell you. Babylon is the gruesome and tragic story of the rise and fall of Hollywood individuals who were a part of the silent scene, and their sin met no limits. And then sound came. And with sound came reformation, reinvention and the doorway to a new world that these people were not prepared for. And their sins catch up to them. Hollywood is not in the city of angels. It's in hell. It's in Babylon.

I watched First Man the day before I saw this, which happens to be the day before opening day. This was the first time I ever went to the movies by myself, and there was only one other guy there. But to be fair, I didn't really expect what I got. I thought I was ready for anything, but Chazelle surprised me.

Babylon has no problem exaggerating the sin of Hollywood, as the first half hour is told through a party with a couple orgies on the side. I honestly didn't expect this from Chazelle. His last three movies have been more tame than that, but I guess he wanted to force a message into the public by being as hard-R as he could without getting the NC-17 rating. Eyes Wide Shut got owned, and the idea of these exaggerations are to get to us in the modern day, letting us know what path we're headed down. This movie really should have gotten the NC-17 rating for how dark it can be, like Saw did. But I can't criticize the film for it as much as I criticize the MPA for their misguided decision. We are even taken into the pit of hell during the third act, and it gets worse and worse until we are surprised with total sin, and something else. The horror ends with a cut to a much calmer scene, which happens gradually throughout the movie and gets worse each time.

The whole movie is about adjustment, as Margot Robbie plays a young and talented silent actress who's voice doesn't cut it for talkies. We also have a silent movie star by Brad Pitt who can't make a decent talking picture to save his life. With these two are a young Spanish man who dreams of being a part of the film industry, and rises through the ranks as Margot's character Nelly keeps screwing him over, despite his feelings for her. And there's also a talented sax player who becomes a big part of the musical film scene, and is largely used as a metaphor for the side character as he's just the guy they hire in the parties until he finally gets his big deal, and he also partakes in the sacrifices made to be a part of Hollywood.

As for the filmmaking technique? Damn, flawless. Whether or not the camera is being simple or experimental, Chazelle places the rails exactly where they need to be both for the sake of the story and the art. And the sets are absolutely stunning. We cover multiple smaller sets in one big lot after the half-hour intro, and all of them are very realistic. The delivery of each lengthy scene gives us a look at the repetition and scope of the varying problems that filmmakers and actors deal with on set. This is especially shown in the scene where Nelly's filming her first talkie, and is later criticized for her raspy P!nk voice.

But the effect is what really matters with this movie that is covering the whole ground of Hollywood sin. The movie gradually got more and most stressful as I knew that Chazelle could easily jump me with a big surprise at any point. It was nerve-wracking. I need to spend a week eating lunches of avocados, berries and fish to restore the hair I may have lost.

Babylon is too appropriately named. It's not just a cinephile's dream. It's a cinephile's nightmare. It's easy to say that Babylon glorifies cinema, but it's also telling Hollywood to eff off. The movie references will disgust a lot of moviegoers for being pretentious, as well as the length, but IMo the length was perfectly justified. And the movie references serve the purpose of displaying the grotesque idol worship / idolatry. After this, does Chazelle have anything left to say about the soul-distorting desire of showbiz success? This is his leading theme in filmmaking! Babylon will be cherished and hated in a cinematic dispute more gruesome than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ever achieved for the decades to come. Maybe that's the boldness that modern cinema needs. We have too many people stealing from the stealers in the creative universe. This, however, is brutal honesty. It does not hold back, and looks at the world as it is and amplifies it, rather than through the eyes of a child or a philosophically devout person who wants a certain world to exist to throw blame. It's about the horrors of the world being shoved down your throat.

This may be the fourth best movie I've ever seen.

= 100/100

By the way, starting with Babylon, I'll be cataloging my director's scoreboard, in which I take their best movies or their worst movies (5 max) and giving an average score to them. In the event that a director has 3 perfect movies, they get a permanent score of 100 which will not waver unless I downgrade one of those ratings below 100.

Damien Chazelle's Score

Babylon: 100
Whiplash: 100
La La Land: 98
First Man: 68

Average: 91.5 / 4