The Great Gatsby
One word comes to mind when I think of director Baz Luhrmann: spectacle. However, behind such spectacle usually shines a small glimmer of originality, allowing his projects to be enjoyed and typically register as guilty pleasures in the audiences’ minds. Or at least, this has been my experience. Now he has taken on a great American novel, or rather the great American novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Dear sweet baby Jeebus can this get any worse.
No doubt Gatsby is indeed a spectacle, and that’s really it. We can end it right there and you can live on in the grandiose illusion that it would seem Gatsby himself made. But let’s face it, Luhrmann isn’t that deep.
For fans of the book, it’s a straight-up slap in the face. What the hell is Carraway doing in a sanitarium? It’s decisions such as this that give the story a completely superfluously somber approach. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But you know, I have a nasty habit of harping on book comparisons a little too much, so I’ll just leave it there.
Gatsby as a film, well…it’s okay. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, I’ll give it that. Everything else was just mediocre. Essentially we’re given a clumsy mash of Romeo + Juliet, Amadeus and Citizen Kane. Major emphasis on clumsy. In addition, the pacing was so strange, it was difficult to determine the tonality of some of the scenes. I mean, I don’t think the part where Joel Edgerton punches Isla Fisher was supposed to be funny.
Speaking of performances, I’m a fan of Carey Mulligan, but all the poor thing did was cry the whole time. Such a waste. Granted, she represents many-a-woman caught in the trials of aristocracy, but c’mon, you could at least make her interesting.
So if you’re looking to waste away two hours looking at pretty things and putting up with Tobey Maguire’s voice, I’m sure you’ll love it. But for a tale so layered, it’s best to stick to the book. At least that way you’ll have the choice to listen to Jay-Z. Just saying.
Final Grade: C+