A sure sign of an entertaining movie is the sound of Margot Robbie’s Brooklyn accent, which is one of the first things you hear in the trailer for Damien Chazelle’s latest film. Surrounded by piles of cocaine, Robbie’s Nellie LaRoy proclaims, “If I had money, I would only spend it on things that were fun, ya know? Not boring things like taxes. I just want everyone to party forever.” And she gets her wish, at least when it comes to the trailer. What follows is about two-minutes of chaos—fast jazz, Brad Pitt tap dancing in his underwear, confetti, paparazzi, and sparklers. Welcome to Chazelle’s Babylon.
The trailer, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, had to be shown twice, according to Indie Wire, so audiences could really take in all the imagery being thrown at them. Written and directed by Chazelle, Babylon is set in 1920s Los Angeles, around the time when silent films began to transition into the talkies. The director described the movie as “the hardest thing” he’s done. “Just the logistics of it, the number of characters, the scale of the set pieces, the span of time that the movie charts—it all conspired to make it particularly challenging, but it was a challenge that was pretty exciting to take on.”
Chazelle explained that his “guiding principle” when it came to making the film was to “demolish all preconceived notions of that era.” He said the Roaring Twenties were “a lot more wild west” than remembered. “There was more excess, more drugs, a more kind of extreme living on all ends of the spectrum than people even realize,” all of which he seemed to have successfully displayed in the film.
Babylon follows Robbie’s Nellie, an aspiring actress, inspired by icons like Clara Bow, Jeanne Eagels, and Alma Rubens. In her journey for stardom, she meets Jack Conrad, portrayed by Brad Pitt, a man akin to John Gilbert, Clark Gable, and Douglas Fairbanks. The official synopsis describes Babylon as “a tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood.” Along with Robbie and Pitt, the movie also stars breakout Diego Calva, as well as Tobey Maguire, Olivia Wilde, Samara Weaving, Jean Smart, Max Minghella, Katherine Waterston, and Lukas Haas. The film is not yet finished, but is currently planning for a December 25th release in select theaters, followed by a wider release the following month.