Babylon's cultural specificity is what gives it power, putting it as much in a tradition of British alienated youth movies like Brighton Rock and Quadrophenia (not coincidentally written by Babylon scriptwriter Martin Stellman).
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What are critics saying?
The lead performances are so genuine and the dialogue, with tones ranging from unbridled glee to utter hatred, is so pure that you think at times that you’re watching a documentary. Babylon is a vivid, though flawed, story that offers no clear villains or angels. Instead, it gives you the truth.
An English cousin to the earlier Jamaica-set films "The Harder They Come" and "Rockers" that is vastly superior in cinematic terms and just as valuable as a cultural document.
In short, Babylon is bland and sadly, should be much better.
The cast’s rumble and spark are draw enough, but there’s also Chris Menges’ textured urban cinematography and Rosso’s empathetic direction, like neorealism rewired and amplified.
Babylon brims over with life in ways that few films of recent vintage could manage, a movie-moment that remembers when “One Love” was enough to end any argument and calm any troubled waters.
All of that observation in Babylon amounts to something that still feels new. You’re looking at people who, in 1980 England, were, at last, being properly, seriously seen.