With films like Whiplash, La La Land, and First Man, director Damien Chazelle has been on a hot streak of delivering critically acclaimed films that also score themselves nominations for prestigious awards, but with his latest film, Babylon, the reaction to the experience has been a bit more conflicted. The film sits at 55% positive reviews on aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes and has only scored $15 million at the worldwide box office, yet has still secured some awards nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards. Chazelle recently recalled how he doesn't focus much on the negative reactions to the film and how he supports experiences that spark conversation.
"I don't really pay that much attention to that," Chazelle shared with Insider of underwhelming reactions to his film. "You know, it's an interesting thing of, where you make something, and then I do believe that it sort of becomes -- once the filmmaker finishes the movie -- the audience's, and that includes the critics, includes everyone. And everyone's gonna have a different take on the film. And I think they're all legitimate."
He continued, "It becomes the world's movie, in a way. That's why I sort of don't really believe in -- though I'm fine when people do it -- filmmakers going back and tinkering after the fact and whatnot. I mean, it's fine, but I do think at a certain point, a movie represents a moment in time and a moment in history."
Unlike other films that score negative reviews which all cite similar failings, there's not a prevailing component of Babylon that is drawing ire, seemingly confirming Chazelle's reaction in that what resonates with one viewer doesn't sit at all well with another. With Academy Awards nominations just over the horizon, it's possible that Babylon could score more support in the near future or, if overlooked, might fade away into obscurity.
Chazelle confessed, "But it's good to have something that stimulates conversation and debate and a lot of fierce opinions on either side. We all knew the movie was gonna ruffle some feathers and get some people mad, and I think that's good. More movies should do that."
The film is described, "From Damien Chazelle, Babylon is an original epic set in 1920s Los Angeles led by Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Diego Calva, with an ensemble cast including Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, and Jean Smart. 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."
Babylon is in theaters now.
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