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Babylon (Home Entertainment Review)

3 min read


Nellie LaRoy () wants to be a star, in fact, as far as she's concerned she's already a star. Star quality is something you are born with not something you learn. It doesn't matter your background, just that you can cry on command, and otherwise surprise and inspire awe in your audience.

At least, that's the case when you're in silent movies. The introduction of talkies crumbled the careers of many leading actors of the 1920s, thanks to their mismatched voices or inability to cope with the newly complex process of making films. That's essentially what is about, and if it sounds familiar, that's because it's basically once again telling his audience how much he loves Singin' in the Rain.


In La La Land, there was some obvious symmetry between the two films, as the quest for art conflicted with love and jazz and created something… new… ish. With Babylon he takes the other half of the plot of Singin'… and stretches it out over 3 hours. Considering the film he is aping only lasts for 103 minutes, this is quite an impressive feat.

Perhaps it is difficult to swallow a film that insists on a self flagellating approach to Hollywood's self obsession, when we've so recently enjoyed the wholesome warmth of Spielberg's The Fabelmans. And Babylon does attempt to touch on this on occasion, with Brad Pitts Jack Conrad making references to the audiences and why they go to the movies. But it is difficult to fully place what Chazelle wants his film to be.

A lack of decision making and inconsistent tone means we launch between violent explosions of bodily fluids, which could be funny if there weren't so many of them. Into perhaps too obscure references to the disposable nature of performers, whilst exploring three separate plot threads which never quite come together. This separation could be intentional of course, as the “stars” continue to dismiss true human connection and love in favour of fame and status. But unfortunately this is never really alluded to clearly or fully explored. It's left for audiences to puzzle out by themselves.


There is a clear attempt to de glamourise Hollywood glitz, with the party everyone is trying to get into at the beginning starting as a debauched orgy before descending into a chaotic attempt to hide an overdose. But even that, is so exciting to watch, and so chaotic, that it perhaps doesn't have the intended impact.

This all being said, Chazelle once again shows off his skills in constructing visuals and his use of music. Once again pairing with Linus Sandgren to bring us images that wouldn't be out of place in the technicolour feasts of cinemas golden age. There is also, obviously, jazz, a lot of jazz. Though it is perhaps used more effectively and subtly than usual for Chazelle who seems to have learned when to begin to tone down the trumpet blasts for emotional effect. The performances too are stunning, with Robbie once again leaning into that working class affectation that makes her Harley Quinn and Tonya Harding so fun to watch. Pitt is perhaps a more tragic figure than we usually see from him, but thanks to the subject matter you'd be hard pushed not to randomly remember his Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, arguably a more well rounded character despite the silliness.

This is the fundamental issue with Babylon, once you see past the glitz and the glamour, the flashing lights and the extreme performances. All you are left with is comparisons to earlier and better films, which isn't really what you want after three hours of vomit and elephant dung.

Babylon is available to Download & Keep and on DVD, Blu-ray™ & 4K Ultra HD™ now.