Paramount has once again closed the curtain on “Babylon,” Damien ChazellePeriod comedy documenting the excesses of early Hollywood. An early screening Monday night at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills has opened the floodgates for early reactions.
The 188-minute epic marks a return to awards season for Chazelle, who became the youngest winner of a best director Oscar in 2016 for his work helming “La La Land.” His subsequent Neil Armstrong biopic “First Man” and his Sundance debut “Whiplash” also made considerable dents in their respective award runs.
margot robbieDiego Calva Brad Pitt headline “Babylon,” among a stacked cast that includes Tobey Maguire, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li, and Jovan Adepo. Chazelle has described the film is inspired by Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” “Nashville” and Robert Altman’s “The Godfather,” “old-school epics that managed, through a handful of characters, to convey a changing society.”
After expressing some concern before the screening, Variety Awards editor Clayton Davis seemed to side with liking the film, calling it a “high-octane” ride with a better first half than the second.
Los Angeles Film Critics Association member Ryan Swen was not a fan at all, arguing that Chazelle “might be the most confident director in Hollywood today, of course, he also has some of the worst instincts.” .
Variety Senior Craftsman Editor Jazz Tangcay hailed the effort as a “phenomenal filmmaking”, with additional kudos for Robbie and Justin Hurwitz’s score.
Playlist writer Gregory Ellwood said the film is “best when it’s straight comedy”, singling out Pitt and Adepo as the highlights of the ensemble.
Although social media reactions are available, Paramount has yet to set an embargo date for full reviews.
“Babylon” is scheduled to hit theaters in North America on December 23. Paramount had initially laid out plans to release the film in limited release on Christmas Day before expanding nationally in early January. The studio’s decision to switch gears for a wide release has been interpreted as a sign of confidence in “Babylon.”
See more reactions to “Babylon” below.