A review of Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon”

A review of Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon”

Charlie Nguyen, Staff Writer

Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” is an exciting, visually stunning, star-studded and refreshing blockbuster among Hollywood’s recent releases. The film follows a handful of characters and their rise to fame in the roaring ‘20s building up to their well-anticipated downfall. 

The opening thirty minutes were a captivating start. The audience is first introduced to the main characters through an extravagant 1920s Hollywood party, a scene filled with pleasing colors and mayhem in a mere fifteen minutes. However, there are moments when scenes seem to drag on more than they need to. Rather than being driven by action or an objective, many scenes are dialogue-heaving, leaving me anxious for a scene to end. Unfortunately, throughout its three-hour runtime,Babylon” included too many of these drawn-out scenes.

The strongest aspect of the film was its commitment to scenes that continued to develop the arcs of the main characters. I felt emotionally connected and invested in the development of strong character personas. “Babylon” isn’t driven by a main objective or conflict, but rather by the evolution of each character and their journey to navigate Hollywood’s historically cutthroat nature. I felt like there was a really unique connection between all of the characters; the dynamic was constantly changing throughout the film. I felt myself siding with one character during certain parts of the film, but then siding with another just a few seconds later. This type of emotional attachment to characters is really hard to achieve and something I don’t experience much when I watch movies, making it an interesting and unique experience, to say the least.

It was difficult not to compare this film to others depicting  a rise and fall in an industry—films like “Goodfellas,” “Wolf of Wall Street,” and especially “Boogie Nights.” “Babylon” follows a similar plot structure, making it feel like a 1920s Hollywood version of “Boogie Nights.” There were multiple times when I noticed “Babylon” was directly referencing and pulling dialogue from other films. Chazelle referred to these films by highlighting their impact on cinema as opposed to directly copying their ideas without giving them credit for their originality.

Overall, “Babylon” was an amazing film compared to other recent releases. It’s filled with action, phenomenal character development and references to familiar films. Although some of the closing scenes seemed to drag on the film’s already relatively lengthy duration, it still exceeded my expectations and was an enjoyable watch.