Each year we get a couple of movies that romanticize filmmaking and cinema, but Damien Chazelle‘s “Babylon” might be the first one to fetishize it.  The main characters are each incredibly passionate about their art but revel in the decadence and chaos that surrounds the industry during the 1920s.

We first meet Manny (Diego Calva) a fixer hired to facilitate an insane party in Bel Air for a Hollywood producer.  He’s a quick thinker who always has an answer for any given problem, unfortunately, his employer rarely acknowledges his value.  While trying to talk his melodramatic friend out of ending his life over a lost love, Manny meets Nellie (Margot Robbie).  Nellie has intense charisma and enough cocaine-fueled confidence to manifest herself into a movie star.  The way she gushes about her desire to become an actress is intoxicating and Manny quickly falls in love.  Also at this party is another underappreciated artist, Jazz trumpet player Sindey (Jovan Adepo) who’s a member of the band that has been hired to perform that night.  This trio of destitute dreamers finds themselves in the presence of Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), one of the most successful actors of the silent film era.

After this night the careers of these four people become intertwined.  Jack takes Manny under his wing and begins to introduce him to all the Hollywood heavy hitters.  Nellie is discovered and rockets to stardom.  Sidney’s talent finally gets the recognition it deserves and he begins to climb the social ladder as well.  Unfortunately, the industry is beginning to change.  Once “The Jazz Singer” is released in 1927 it becomes clear that “talkies” are the future of cinema.  Each of the characters attempts to adapt, but change suits some better than others.

If a group of filmmakers trying to figure out how to handle the change from the silent film era to talkies sound suspiciously similar to “Singing in the Rain” you wouldn’t be wrong.  Once you’re aware of the similarities, it becomes increasingly clear that Damien Chazelle is telling an incredibly dark version of that musical, even borrowing some dialog and scenarios.  It is easy to assume he might be remaking “Singing in the Rain” similar to the complaints that “La La Land” was essentially a rip-off of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” but there is far more going on here.  “Babylon” is packed to the brim with chaotic energy, entertaining characters, drug-fueled madness, sex, and even a nightmarish trip into the criminal underworld that would make Dante proud.

If you enjoy this type of energy and excess, then “Babylon” has only one major flaw.  The final 5-10 minutes of the movie assume the audience doesn’t get the point of the film and spends the final moments aggressively pounding it into our eyes.  It’s condescending at first but then escalates to a turbulent montage that brutally rips us out of the narrative.  It’s a shame that a movie this enjoyably unhinged completely bombs the last few moments.