The story opens in the year 1926 in California at a well-known decadent party in the outskirts of the city. Music, Dance, sex, nudity, drugs, alcohol and even an elephant where all a part of this party that many wanted to attend but it was invitation only. Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) a well to do actor in silent films was there, even Elinor St. John (Jean Smart) the woman with the know all attitude that wrote in Hollywood about the current films and actors, George Munn (Lukas Haas) a dear best friend to Jack was there and once again crying over the loss of another woman that won’t marry him, even Manny Torres (Diego Calva) was there and he was a nobody at the time as was Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie) but she managed to work her way into the party and almost instantly she became that it girl in the black and white silent films. Heck even in time, Hollywood found a place for the black musicians like Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) to be on screen when sound became present.
As time went on Hollywood and fame were nice to some but not so much to others. I bit too much gambling, cocaine and alcohol can end a career let alone a life. Manny took a big liking to Nellie so much so that he thought if he could project his career, he could help hers as well. During the silent movie times a career was easier to hide your talents or in this case lack thereof but when talkies came about studying lines, one’s voice and the real sense of being an actor started to take flight. Some of the early names started to be taken over by younger more talented actors like ones from stage. Hollywood started to clean itself up in the 1930’s and they felt it was time to move on with budgets, better actors and more elaborate scenes.
Times were changing and at times somewhat quickly causing the old generation to move on whether by suicide, a new location or to just disappear because of run ins with gangsters like James McKay (Tobey Maguire) that have a life that one would never believe unless maybe in a horror film. Overall, Hollywood had a way to deal with the old and initiate the new, hide the ones that died while filming and live high on the hog so to speak. Hollywood may have changed throughout the years for sure but the reflections of the 20’s and 30’s still are visible behind the scenes of everyone living in California seeking stardom.
I absolutely enjoyed this film which is three hours long but for me it went by quickly. Chazelle is excellent in the director and writer chair as when a scene may seem to go slightly dull, he stirs the pot to excite the audience. The wardrobes and the score are perfect and the cinematography and magic of old Hollywood are absolutely amazing. It may not be for everyone but for those that want a bit of a ride on a time machine of Hollywood past will love this film.
Pitt is amazing as the actor getting by on his looks more than his talent. Smart is a great side story topic so much so that one would say she knew all the juicy stories of everyone in the movies. I loved Calva who is one of the story lines as he struggles for fame and love. Maguire does not have a big part but for the one he has is awesome. As for Robbie this is her film from beginning to end and she should be looking at a tall gold man in her future. There are several cameos and other actors you will recognize but literally everything about this story is an interesting ride. As for the animal world there are several used from elephants that enter a crazy party to hide a death to horses used in the old films but probably the one to make you jump is the alligator and the one to disgust you is the rat scene which is not animal friendly in the least.