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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Seren Morris

‘A flaming hot mess’: Babylon critics pan Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie’s new film

Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie’s latest film, Babylon, was screened for film critics on Monday night — and it doesn’t seem to be a hit so far.

Forthright reviewers in the US have branded the movie “a bit messy,” “an ambitious mess,” and even “a flaming hot mess”.

Many critics have praised the first half but have suggested that the third act lets it down. Others have commended the actors but said they were let down by the script.

Set in the 1920s, Babylon documents a hedonistic Hollywood’s transition from silent films to talkies. It was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who’s known for the critically acclaimed La La Land and Whiplash.

His latest creation looks unlikely to achieve the same acclaim, however.

Entertainment journalist Destiny Jackson said: “Equal parts decadent, deviant and delirious… Babylon is an entertaining and sprawling epic about the highs and lows of the golden age of Hollywood.

“It’s a bit messy in its third act and the ending is something from the multiverse (?) …but overall a love letter to cinema.”

Film critic Scott Menzel said: “Babylon is an ambitious mess of a film. I don’t even know where to begin with this one but the tone is all over the place.

“Margot Robbie tries but the script fails her. A love letter to cinema that made me hate cinema.”

Variety’s senior awards editor, Clayton Davies, said: “Babylon feels like if someone read Damien Chazelle the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and then he said, ‘hold my beer!’

“High octane, cocaine-inducing trip. First half is great. Likely the internet’s new favourite movie of all-time. Margot Robbie and Justin Hurwitz are your stars.”

Entertainment Weekly’s film critic, Joshua Rothkopt, said: “Damien Chazelle brings buckets of energy to BABYLON, but it’s never not pounding and obvious and, finally, uninsightful.

“Everything about it is borrowed — even down to Tobey Maguire stealing the film as its Alfred Molina. A [Martin] Scorsese coke film by a squeaky clean director.”

Film producer Perri Nemiroff said: “Babylon has some incredibly strong sequences — especially the ones focused on Margot Robbie’s character — but overall lacked focus and couldn’t support so many key characters.

“Lots of interesting ideas in there but the manic visuals and story structure work for some and not others.”

Film critic Erick Weber said: “I have some really — really — bad news to share with you, #Babylon’s a flaming hot mess, a tonal disaster, easily Damien Chazelle’s worst film and one of the worst films of 2022.”

Entertainment Weekly’s digital editor, Yolanda Machado, said: “Babylon is A LOT of movie - a purposeful mess, a journey more than a film that feels every bit as much a the town it encompasses.

“There is a storyline I’m questioning... but Margot Robbie and Diego Calva are [fire] and the music!!! Oomph, the music and visuals are [100].”

Film critic Matt Donato said: “Babylon throttles forward with excessive momentum to start, the first hour(ish) easily engages — then the next two hours deflate.

“Chazelle is enamoured and repulsed by the industry machine, but his fantasy commentary is woefully scattershot. Chaotic, opulent, and a bloated mess.”

Babylon is set to be released in UK cinemas on January 20, 2023.

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