Damien Chazelle, director of such great films as Whiplash and La La Land, has a new film out wide in theaters right now entitled Babylon, and there have been plenty of pundits who believe that Babylon will receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
I, on the other hand, absolutely hated it.
I have not come out of a theater angry after watching a movie in a long time, but I was angry after spending time with this mess of a film. After fifteen minutes, I was ready to be done with Babylon, and I knew that I had another 2 hours and 45 minutes to go. I considered just leaving, but I have a rule about writing a review about a movie that I have left.
I hated this movie so much. Within five minutes of the movie, one of the actors is show getting literally shit on by an elephant. No joke… and I don’t care if that is a spoiler. He was shit on. By an elephant.
Set at the beginning in the later 1920s, the story of Babylon was all over the place following several different characters. The main ones were Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) a huge star in the movies and the eventual loss of his status in Hollywood as he got older and silent pictures left. Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie) was an aspiring actress who claimed to be a star despite not yet being in any film. Margot Robbie’s story turned out to be a story taken from Singing in the Rain as they quite literally showed scenes in the third act from Singing in the Rain for anyone who did not catch the similarities. Then there was Manny (Diego Calva) who just seemed to be in the right place at the right time for his career, starting off as an assistant to Jack Conrad and winding up as a studio exec.
There were others that were tossed in for reasons, but not sure why.
I will say that I did like Brad Pitt’s arc and the character of Jack Conrad was the least ridiculous of the bunch. I thought his storyline worked fairly well for most of his time on screen. Margot Robbie’s Nellie was all over the place. She was the most inconsistent of the three ‘main’ characters. She had a gambling problem which was mentioned early in the movie, but was never important until the third act when they needed it to be important.
The film was chaotic, messy and filled with decadence and debauchery… and not in the good way.
If this movie receives an Oscar nomination, I will be very unhappy because this would be an example of something that I have noticed over the years. There are critics and pundits who have favorite directors that they like whatever they do no matter how bad it is. Directors such as Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, among others seem to get a pass. Damien Chazelle has been placed in that group. There is no way that Babylon was done by another no name director that anyone would be pushing it for an Oscar.
If I haven’t said it yet, I hated this movie. Brad Pitt was good.