Paramount has pulled the curtain on Babylon, Damien Chazelle’s historical comedy that chronicled the excesses of early Hollywood. An early screening Monday night at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills opened the floodgates for early reactions.
The 188-minute epic is a return to awards season for Chazelle, who became the youngest-ever Oscar winner for Best Director of All Time in 2016 for his work directing La La Land. His subsequent Neil Armstrong biopic First Man and his Sundance breakout Whiplash also left significant dents in their respective awards series.
Margot Robbie, Diego Calva and Brad Pitt direct Babylon in a star cast that includes Tobey Maguire, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li and Jovan Adepo. Chazelle described the film as being inspired by Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Robert Altman’s Nashville and The Godfather — “old school epics that managed to convey a changing society through a handful of characters”.
After expressing some trepidation before the screening, diversity Awards editor Clayton Davis seemed to like the film, calling it a high-octane journey where the first half was better than the second.
Los Angeles Film Critics Association member Ryan Swen wasn’t a fan at all, arguing that Chazelle “maybe the most confident director in Hollywood today, of course he also has some of the worst instincts out there.”
diversity Artis senior editor Jazz Tangcay hailed the effort as “phenomenal filmmaking,” with particular praise for the score by Robbie and Justin Hurwitz.
Playlist writer Gregory Ellwood said the film is “at its best when it’s pure comedy,” and singled out PItt and Adepo as highlights of the cast.
While there is reaction on social media, Paramount has yet to set an embargo date on full reviews.
Babylon is slated to hit theaters December 23 across North America. Paramount originally planned to debut the limited release film on Christmas Day before expanding nationwide in early January. The studio’s decision to switch for a wide release was taken as a sign of confidence in Babylon.
See more “Babylon” reactions below.