Megalopolis – The BRWC Review

Megalopolis - Review

Megalopolis – The BRWC Review. By Samhith Ankam.

It’s hard to gauge if this movie is really as humble as it wants to be; you’re kind of spending the whole movie waiting for it to be a bit more classically about how fame entangles itself in the worst tendencies of a person, but this is more Batman-esque. Adam Driver plays Cesar Catalina – an architect trying to rebuild New Rome (it’s transposing the Roman Empire onto New York to, in turn, create the parallel of the fall of the Roman Empire with 21st century America’s greed and politics) – and he continues to morph into another auteur’s muse with ease.

His last few roles play more physical; there’s always a bit of inquisitive sadness just in how his wrinkles lay on his face, and you can see each muscle contorting itself for a smile, but Megalopolis requires him to be very attuned with the dialogue. He’s trying to convince everyone on and off set. At one point he recites a Shakespeare monologue while the camera captures everyone being unsure of what the larger point is, or even simply, what’s going on. He’s very good in this, magnetic at all times to not let you give up.



Because… Coppola does whatever in Megalopolis; As a passion project years in the making, it feels refreshingly excessive rather than intimately polished. It’s fun to just go along with it. In the party sequence where Cesar’s entire facade of a celebrity is made clear, the edit becomes disorientingly glorious. It pinpongs between loving and time-crunched features, like circular fade-in and fade-outs v.s. the Powerpoint-esque title screen, but never does it feel devoid of personal impulse. 

Cesar Catalina can stop time. Marvel moment, perhaps, but Francis Ford Coppola is fully involved in how artists can capture a moment in time. And, how artists in love can reset time. Barely any heroics with that superpower take place in this movie, in fact, it’s barely a focal point in the narrative until Cesar loses his ability. Francis writes that moment into actualizing Cesar and Julia’s relationship, because if he’s going to speed-past organic courting scenes, then why not turn them into a divine pairing to make their love tangible.

The storytelling becomes secondary to emancipating an artist, but Francis Ford Coppola doesn’t feel like a stand-in for Cesar against all odds. The character is rendered without much detail beyond the renaissance parallels. Ultimately, a good thing and renders it sweetly as an ode to art. Going to come clean – this is my first Francis Ford Coppola movie. Perhaps showcasing my ineptitude to place Megalopolis in any context, but the context I have for Megalopolis isn’t whether or not Coppola has the juice to bring us into the future, but rather just gauging his wants from the future. 

Can’t stop thinking about the choice to have Shia Lebouf in drag; the eccentricity of it all is so weirdly but properly placed into the narrative. Gets absurd to the point where Shia’s character, Clodio, is having BDSM sex with Aubrey Plaza’s character, Wow Platinum. It’s so baffling in a way that’s a feature not a bug, Francis’ movie tackles when eccentricity is vapid and when it’s earnest. I.e. making money eccentrically isn’t art, but making art eccentrically can create a whole new marketplace. 

In the behind-the-scenes drama, and sexual harassment allegations on Coppola, outlined here, it’s mentioned by a crew member that Francis Ford Coppola was outspoken of the fact that they weren’t creating a Marvel movie, and yet that crew member believes they did just that. Broadly, it kind of is Marvel-esque.

But, all those sequences that played in movies of years past are played here in ways so strange that it feels like we’ve juiced everything conventional of every last drop it has. The permutations of the blockbuster are running out quick. This is an artifact, an extremely extremely fun one, of the idea of a movie in the 21st century. And this is very hopeful of its future despite it all. Good.


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