Title: “The Great Gatsby”
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of the same name, Baz Luhrmann tries to recreate the book for the modern screen but misses the mark pretty badly. What went wrong? The answer is rather complex.
The story is told from the point of view of Nick Carraway, played by Tobey Maguire, who has come to live in New York City and lands next to an eccentric millionaire, Jay Gatsby, who seems to have designs on Nick’s cousin, Daisy.
This is one of those movies that you want to like. First, it’s based on a classic novel and one of my personal favorites. Secondly, it has some great acting talent involved. Third, the production values are astounding.
Unfortunately, that last part is where things begin to fall apart. The production value becomes distracting. The movie looks like it’s encrusted in gold and shotgunned with diamonds, with an upbeat soundtrack by Jay-Z. But as the movie progresses, we realize that this film has the same problem as another of Baz Lurhmann’s films, “Moulin Rouge,” that being that it’s all style and no substance.
This film is hollow. It depends on the flashy sets, catchy music, editing tricks, and cinematography to create a bright and pretty candy coating, but when we bite into it, we discover that all the elements that make a good film are absent. The actual story feels like it’s struggling for life. Dramatic scenes feel cartoony. Even Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t feel convincing as Gatsby. It simply fails to come together to create a solid core around which to place the more superfluous elements and fails to capture the soul of the novel.
This is one of those bright and pretty films that you might enjoy if you can overlook the fundamental flaws within. If you like your movies with a lot of flash and style, give it a try. But don’t expect something groundbreaking or inspiring. You won’t find it here.
“The Great Gatsby” earns 2.5 out of 5 stars.