As society moves from the silent era of films to the talkies, we follow various entertainers and their ambitions. Movie star Jack Conrad, (Brad Pitt) up and comer Nellie LaRoy, (Margot Robbie) an errand boy rising the ranks, Manny. (Diego Calva) A screenwriter who is fetishized and not given the credit she's due, Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li) and a trumpet player who is about to explode on the scene, Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo)
Babylon is a whole lot of movie. Calling it ambitious feels like an understatement. It's a spectacle in every sense of the word. Director Damien Chazelle has come a long way from the relatively small scale Whiplash to this. The sets, the music, the costumes, everything breathes chaotic energy. Chazelle does a good job of wrangling it all together. It's a technical wonder, though he could manage his time slightly better.
I wish I seen this before voting in the critics circles I'm eligible for because it would've cleaned house in several categories. As far as the acting goes, Margot Robbie gives probably her most fearless performance yet. I especially loved her scenes opposite director Ruth Adler. (Olivia Hamilton) Pitt is effortless as Jack, this role feels made for him. Diego Calva is someone I'm not as familiar with but now I can't wait to see what he does next. I have to acknowledge Jovan Adepo, his character deserves more time in the story all together. From what I've read, his regulation to the back of the story was intentional, mirroring how black actors were often overlooked in that time. But it's our loss because what he does on screen is incredible. He's the one I wish we got more of and he makes a huge impact with his short screen time compared to the others.
This brings me back to "time management." This film is bloated. It's three hours long and even though I was never bored while watching it, I definitely think a few things could've been trimmed, or more time allotted to different characters instead. Fay and Sidney I would've liked to have seen more of. Tobey Maguire shows up about 2 1/2 hour in, and I could've done without him all together. I suppose the long run time makes sense in the grand scheme of things, but I feel like it's going to kill its box office numbers. Audiences are already giving James Cameron's Fern Gully sequel their three hours. Can they afford to give Damien the same?
Screenplay aside, I had a lot of fun watching this. All the other moving pieces that help create a film gave their A game and created something wonderful.