Brad Pitt enters the wet t-shirt contest as a drunken Errol Flynn hybrid in a singlet, white shorts and suspenders. Margot Robbie coke away mountains of white powder as the Hollywood it girl of the wild 1920s. In three hours of 'Babylon' she wears next to nothing underneath and almost dances her soul out of her scantily clad body, while all around her bare breasts just fly around and guests do it unabashedly with each other. In his first scene, shooting star Diego Calva drags an elephant to a Hollywood party – and man, the cattle have a bowel movement. Even before the opening credits, Damien Chazelle ('La La Land') makes it clear that he doesn't want to make a mess with his new film, he wants to go big. Everything here is really excessive. But does the visually stunning meat inspection live up to its promises? Well, not quite.
No question, it's fun to watch Brad Pitt as the aging but still handsome silent film star Jack Conrad with his Clark Gable memorial hairstyle and mustache, melancholically moving from party to party and from wife to wife and getting sadder and sadder because his old Hollywood threatens to never be the same with the advent of talkies - a fate Jack shares with Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie). She starts out as a pretty, humble girl who dreams of being on a movie set -- just like his Mexican-born henchman, Manuel 'Manny' Torres (Diego Calva). With a sensational table dance, in which Nellie briefly gives a glimpse of her bare chest, she becomes a star. But she, too, soon left the dream factory again when the silent film came to an end.
The only one who constantly rises in this system is the ultra-flexible Manny, who can adapt to new trends and reinvent himself again and again, who doesn't go from rags to riches, but from elephant boy to producer. He prefers to pull the strings behind the camera, although he is also extremely handsome. But secretly being in love with Nellie is his Achilles heel….
It takes a while for us to delve into Damien Chazelle's opulent Hollywood Hidden Objects full of nods to film history, his party tableaus of naked copulators, vomit orgies on plush carpets, and the numerous corpses that line the filmmakers' path. The reason it can be difficult is that the story's heroes don't really grow on you, that they remain too much conceptual characters, that the romance between Nellie and Manny is suggested rather than really sizzling.
All three main actors play great, but don't get enough opportunity to give their characters more depth in the many lightning-fast individual sequences. This is mainly due to the script, which is always willing to sacrifice the credibility of the story for a nice visual idea and always makes us feel a bit left out. But of course, we're nothing more than onlookers in Hollywood.
The message of 'Babylon' is clear from start to finish: a human life doesn't count in Tinseltown, even if you think you've made it, you're just a cog in the Hollywood machine and still go along with it, because the magic isn't just is created on the screen, but also blows through the scenes.
Or to put it, as the sharp-tongued journalist Elinor Jack Conrad throws it at: When you've passed your peak as a Hollywood star, you can't force your comeback, you can only console yourself with the fact that you're at least familiar with your more successful films will attain immortality. And of course the farewell to the silent film era has certain parallels to the situation of cinema after the triumph of streaming services - Chazelle presses our nose on it when he lets Nellie, Manny and Jack feel the reaction of the audience again and again in the cinema hall.
How visually stunning Damien Chazelle celebrates the cinema here is a force and is fun to watch - even if there are plenty of disgusting scenes, such as when Tobey Maguire kidnaps us into the 'Ass of Hollywood' or Margot Robbie clashes with a rattlesnake. Everything here is excessive, from the film quotes to the orchestra, which provides great musical accompaniment to “Babylon”. Chazelle gives in to every impulse to slip film fans an Easter egg or to add an anecdote or digression here and there – sometimes at the expense of the story and the characters. A little more stringency and one or two fewer binges would certainly not have gone amiss - and historically correct equipment for the 1920s wardrobe, too. But Margot Robbie, Diego Calva and, above all, Brad Pitt make sure that the 180 minutes (!) are still a pleasure.source: vip.de