The lives of a group of actors, writers, and others involved in the films industry are forever changed as Hollywood leaves the silent era.
I think this film is at its best when it is going wild, whether that is the hedonistic dance number or Tobey McGuire covering his face in grease paint. When it loses track of the wider points it is trying to make about chasing stardom and your dreams never turning out to be what you want them to be, all of which have been made before and in a much more nuance and layered way that this film, the film is fun. The grotesque spectacle of Hollywood as a playground for broken millionaires does have some mileage, and that is why the party scenes are the highlight of the film.
I think personally, this is one of Chazelle’s most accessible films for me and the only one outside of Whiplash that I could really ever get into. This again was more a result of the gross levels of debauchery and ideocracy that you can’t help but stare at then as a result of the plot. For the most part the narrative of the film is fairly aimless and tries to be insightful whilst going through the motions, all the while you are just counting down the moments to the next manic burst of energy that you know is coming.
Margot Robbie tries her best to anchor the film and keep it afloat but struggles, however, I don’t really think any of the actors in this film would be strong enough to carry it on their backs. Even veterans like Brad Pitt can light up the screen for a few scenes but are then quickly put back in their box as the film doesn’t know what to do with them. Diego Cava’s Manny is a serviceable and likeable protagonist but there isn’t enough fresh about him to really make him stand out against the likes of Robbie, Pitt and a greased up McGuire.
Finally, though no one is watching this film for a history lesson I would be remiss not to point out that by all accounts the version of Hollywood this film portrays is not only not accurate in a historical sense but is also incredibly and I do mean incredibly sanitised. Any notions of racism, sexism or predatory sexual practice, all of which we know would likely have been fairly common at the time are conveniently left out so Hollywood can fetishize its early days and blow more hot air up itself.
Overall, fun when viewed for the wild spectacle and silliness, but when things turn serious the film begins to crack.
Everything about Toby McGuire’s role
It can be a lot of fun
It is fairly well paced for the epic that it tries to be
It sanitises and rewrites history on a number of things
It has nothing new or insightful to say yet thinks it does
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