Film Review: ‘The Great Gatsby’

The Great Gatsby Review

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that bling in Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” which arrives six months after its originally scheduled December release date but maintains something of a gussied-up holiday feel, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as staged by Liberace. Indeed, it comes as little surprise that the Aussie auteur behind the gaudy, more-is-more spectacles “Moulin Rouge” and “Australia” has delivered a “Gatsby” less in the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel than in that of its eponymous antihero — a man who believes bejeweled excess will help him win the heart of the one thing his money can’t buy. Cinema audiences can prove as fickle and elusive as Daisy Buchanan, too, but it’s a fair bet that a starry cast (and soundtrack) and sheer curiosity value will power this Warner/Roadshow co-production to career-best box office numbers for Luhrmann (a record currently held by “Australia,” at $211 million), if not quite enough to justify its supposed $127 million budget.

Like the blinking green beacon at the end of Daisy’s dock — so close and yet so far — Fitzgerald’s masterpiece of American letters has been a siren call for filmmakers ever since it was published in 1925. The first, silent screen adaptation arrived just one year later (and is now, like so many films of that era, believed lost), with subsequent versions following in 1949 (reconfigured into a film noir), 1974 (the best-known, with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow) and for cable TV in 2000. Rarely included in official “Gatsby” inventories, 2002’s quite curious “G” found an analog for Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age in the world of contemporary music’s hip-hop elite, long before Luhrmann saw fit to enlist Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter as a collaborator on his film’s cheerfully anachronistic soundtrack. But no one has yet cracked “Gatsby” on film as ingeniously as the theater company Elevator Repair Service did in its 2010 stage adaptation, “Gatz,” built around one actor’s unabridged, cover-to-cover recitation of the novel.

It is often said that great books make for inferior films and vice versa, but there is something particular about “Gatsby” that seems to defy the screen. Transformed into voiceover, the running first-person narration of Nick Carraway (here played by Tobey Maguire) turns stilted and dry (presumably a problem the silent version avoided). Scrutinized by the camera’s gaze, Fitzgerald’s beautifully deployed symbols and signifiers become leaden with portent: the green light, the yellow roadster, the mountain of custom-tailored shirts, the unused swimming pool and the ever-watchful eyes staring out from the billboard of an enterprising Queens oculist. With Luhrmann at the helm, those devices loom larger and more literal than ever, until they come to resemble the towering monoliths of “2001.”

Of course, to accuse Luhrmann (who also co-wrote the screenplay with frequent collaborator Craig Pearce) of overkill is a bit like faulting a leopard for his spots. Love it or hate it, take it or leave it, this is unmistakably his “Gatsby” through and through, and as with all such carte-blanche extravaganzas (increasingly rare in this cautious Hollywood age), it exudes an undeniable fascination — at least for a while. In the notes for his unfinished final novel, “The Last Tycoon,” Fitzgerald famously wrote, “action is character,” but for Luhrmann action is production design, hairstyling, Prada gowns and sweeping, swirling, CGI-enhanced camera movements that offer more bird’s-eye views of Long Island (actually the Fox Studios in Sydney) than “The Hobbit” did of Middle-earth. Arguably, the movie reaches its orgiastic peak 30 minutes in, with the first full reveal of Gatsby himself (Leonardo DiCaprio), accompanied by an explosion of fireworks and the eruption of Gershwin on the soundtrack. Where, really, can one go from there?

PHOTOS: The Great Gatsby’ Premiere: Film Opens in New York

But oh, how Luhrmann tries. Together with cinematographer Simon Duggan, he unleashes every manipulation he can think of — sepia flashbacks, smash zooms, split screens, superimpositions, period newsreel footage, new footage degraded to resemble period newsreel footage — all of it coming at you in three steroscopic dimensions. Only occasionally does the style seem like an actual response to the text rather than a visual circus operating independently of it. In one of the pic’s more striking passages, Carraway’s famous observation that he feels at once “within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled” becomes a lyrical mosaic of shared New York experience. Less effectively, Luhrmann has complete sentences from the novel appear typed out on the screen — a gimmick explained by a framing device that situates Carraway in a sanitarium, recounting the tale of Gatsby to a captivated shrink (Jack Thompson) who encourages him to write the story down.

What Luhrmann grasps even less than previous adapters of the tale is that Fitzgerald was, via his surrogate Carraway, offering an eyewitness account of the decline of the American empire, not an invitation to the ball. But Luhrmann identifies far more strongly with Gatsby than he does with Nick, and instead of a tragic figure undone by his false optimism and unrequited yearning, the character becomes an object of envy  —someone whose swank mansion and runway couture would be awfully nice to call one’s own. So the champagne flows like monsoon rain and the wild parties roar. Who cares if you’re doomed to meet an untimely end, so long as you go out looking fabulous?

Everyone does look the part in this “Gatsby,” not least DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan (as Daisy), though in the years since his innovative, modern-dress “Romeo + Juliet,” where style still sat in something like equal balance with substance, Luhrmann has become less interested in performances than in artful poses. Periodically, as if by accident, something like real emotion pokes up through the film’s well-manicured surface, as when Gatsby recounts his first meeting with Daisy, his face lighting up with the childlike hope that so entrances Nick about him. More often, “Gatsby” feels like a well-rehearsed classic in which the actors say their lines ably, but with no discernible feeling behind them. By far the liveliest work in the film comes from two actors with only a few minutes of screen time between them: the lithe, long-limbed newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as gabby golf pro Jordan Baker, and, in a single scene that marks his belated Hollywood debut, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan as the flamboyant Jewish “gambler,” Meyer Wolfsheim.

Among the uniformly accomplished technical contributions, Luhrmann’s producer wife, Catherine Martin (already a double Oscar winner for “Moulin Rouge”) once again stands out for her production and costume design.

Movie Stills:

Film Review: 'The Great Gatsby'

Reviewed at Warner Bros. screening room, New York, April 30, 2013. (In Cannes Film Festival — opener, noncompeting.) MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 141 MIN.

Production

A Warner Bros. release presented in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and A&E Television of a Bazmark/Red Wagon Entertainment production. Produced by Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher, Catherine Knapman. Executive producers, Barrie M. Osborne, Bruce Berman, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. Co-producer, Anton Monsted.

Crew

Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Screenplay, Luhrmann, Craig Pearce, based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Camera (color, widescreen, Red Digital Cinema, 3D), Simon Duggan; editors, Matt Villa, Jason Ballantine, Jonathan Redmond; music, Craig Armstrong; executive music supervisor, Anton Monsted; production designer, Catherine Martin; supervising art director, Ian Gracie; art directors, Damien Drew, Michael Turner; set decorator, Beverly Dunn; costume designer, Martin; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat/SDDS), Guntis Sics; sound designer/supervising sound editor, Wayne Pashley; re-recording mixers, Steve Maslow, Phil Heywood, Pashley; visual effects supervisor, Chris Godfrey; visual effects producer, Joyce Cox; visual effects, Animal Logic, Prime Focus, Rising Sun Pictures, Iloura, Industrial Light & Magic, Method Studios; stunt coordinator, Glenn Ruehland; assistant director, Jennifer Leacey; casting, Ronna Kress, Nikki Barrett.

With

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki, Jack Thompson, Amitabh Bachchan.

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  1. iwantmymoneeback says:

    D.K. it looks like you were spot on with your reviews. IMO It was one of the laziest and uninspiring literature to film adaptations that I have ever seen. A half hour into it I was ready to walk out. I only stayed hoping that the movie would get better. Then just when it seemed to get a little interesting the movie ended. The performance of Leonardo Di Caprio and the young lady who played Daisy were the only two positive things about this movie.

  2. Shelby says:

    What is the name of the song played when they are having the party and he gets drunk for the first time in the movie there’s black guys playing horns to it..?

  3. Just wish to say your article is as amazing. The clarity on your put up is simply cool and i could think you are a professional in this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to snatch your RSS feed to keep up to date with coming near near post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

  4. Missy Raven says:

    Just saw it, and I must say, even if you HATE the novel, hate the other versions, this one is DIFFERENT!!!! See it for the special effects alone and you won’t be disappointed! Absolutely stunning from beginning to end, and the best 3D movie I have seen. Oh yes, the acting was good too, but secondary to the overall effect of WOW!!!!! Beautiful people and clothing, well, Just see it!

  5. It is a pity!
    Don´t worry, Leo. I love you, witted.

  6. joegiosano says:

    have no desire to see it. sounds boring.

  7. winston says:

    ‘American empire?” That’s what happens when you anachronistically wring criticism through the limited language of contemporary politics. That said, the Great Gatsby in 3D?

  8. Jwporetenus says:

    Does every single thing all day every day have to Mean Something About Equality In America? The Great Gatsby is a book about rich white heterosexual people. Does that frighten and offend you? Do you think a gay couple was turned away from a screening bc of their gayness and not, say, because they were so drunk that they started a crying jag in the lobby? Wereblack people turned away because they were black or because the movie was sold out? Did you notice the white het couples being turned away too? Are you so racist and sexist that every ordinary event in life makes sense to you only if it is interpreted as a crucible of discrimination? Is everything observed only as an opportunity for clueless outrage? Are you still a college sophomore, mentally, though you graduated eons ago and should have matured into nuanced thinking by now? Then, please consider getting over yourself and stop being the thing you hate.

    Oh, and Baz threw in anachronistic music because that’s what he does in every movie he makes– he does it to make classic material “relevant” and so what? Do you think the soundtrack for Romeo +Juliet was taken from traditional airs played in Shakespeare’s time? And for that matter, do you think F Scott Fitzgerald is something holy? Check out Life of Brian sometime, if Jesus can take a joke then I think ‘ol Mr. Crackup is sleeping calm in his grave regardless of whether Jay Z and Beyonce accurately depict the Jazz Age.

  9. V says:

    “Fitzgerald’s beautifully deployed symbols and signifiers become leaden with portent: the green light, the yellow roadster, the mountain of custom-tailored shirts, the unused swimming pool and the ever-watchful eyes staring out from the billboard of an enterprising Queens ocularist. With Luhrmann at the helm, those devices loom larger and more literal than ever…”

    You are honestly telling me you never saw any of those symbols as obvious and literal in the books? Are you kidding me? Everything was very in-your-face in that book. The symbolism was not subtle and I don’t expect it to be subtle in the film either.

  10. MK says:

    It’s spelled Caraway, not Carraway.

  11. D K says:

    Baz Luhrmann is a bad director, plain and simple. A film that is visually busy and looks nice doesn’t really cut it when you’re trying to film an adaptation of one of the great works in American literature. What you get is THE GREAT GATSBY as a bad music video for attention-deficit teenagers. Pathetic and ridiculous … with a rap score …. and in 3D! GATSBY’s undeniable failure as a film (and the bomb/joke that is AUSTRALIA) should finally bury Luhrmann in Hollywood … good riddance!

    • TheOppositionPHD says:

      Are you saying you want a boring version of Gatsby? Splendid! Watch one of the past versions. This film would die a painful death in the box office if the bling was removed. I’m looking forward to an exciting adaption of Gatsby. Watch it in 2D, there are plenty of other great songs like the ones by Florence + the machine. Have you even seen the movie yet? No? Stop being so ignorant! Not everything will perfectly match your perception of things, this is a version of Gatsby that is unique and exciting. We all have our own versions of Gatsby. I hope the story lives up to the book, and I won’t judge a movie by the fact that’s it’s available in 3D! 2013, everything is in 3D! You’re lucky they didn’t go IMAX! Good day.

      • Sarah says:

        I don’t think anybody is against “bling”, but when the bling overpowers the substance of the narrative, then people reserve the right to criticise the movie and pan it. So, sure, it may be entertaining, but as an art form that includes many more things than visual aesthetics, it probably fails. More than 50% of the reviews I have come across at this moment have critics disappointed with the movie. I may just wait for this to come out on DVD if the reviews are this bad. Usually, I like to give movies a chance and ignore critics, but since this is an adaptation of a novel (one of my favourites, at that), I’d prefer spending my money on Iron Man which has far better reviews.

      • tomahawkhh7 says:

        Don’t worry D K, no one is paying me. I am just an enthusiast of everything that seems to make your world burn. I stand for freedom to explore, I love to see things from new perspectives- even if I disagree with a burning passion. That’s the beauty of this world! People are free to express themselves and hold their own beliefs. I don’t care for 3D, I’ll be saving my money and watching it 2D style, but I’m sure there are people out there who want to experience in-your-face 3D! Judging this film over its 3D option is like going to an ice cream shop, buying a vanilla ice cream cone, and complaining over the option other flavors that you personally do not enjoy consuming. We all know the truth is that not EVERYONE hated it. Of course, the ones who hated it beyond control would be stomping their criticism all over the internet- but they don’t represent the total population. I respect your opinion, I loved the book and, indeed, Luhrmann’s version is not completely what I imagined when I was reading, but I look forward to a Gatsby that visually illustrates the words I so very much enjoyed reading.

      • D K says:

        Are you serious, or a paid flunky trolling the boards? So, let me get this straight – of your own free will, you’re selling the virtues of gimmicky 3D and an over-the-top contemporary soundtrack in an otherwise painfully bad adaptation of THE GREAT GATSBY. Wow. You know, everyone who’s seen it (and not remotely connected to the film) knows GATSBY is a flawed film (you already know my opinion). And, this weekend everyone will know how bad it is. And, deal with this fact – It’s all Luhrmann’s fault. He wanted to make his GATSBY with, ahem, “bling” and now he’s going to have to fall on his sword. He’s absolute toast.

  12. So True says:

    Hollywood sucks. Totally. Bunch of LW POS’s.

  13. Erquyman says:

    Mr Foundas says ” Fitzgerald was, via his surrogate Carraway, offering an eyewitness account of the decline of the American empire”. What empire? American culture or society but there never was an empire.

  14. Fitzzz says:

    I’M sure it’s going to be very successful
    Today we need distraction, lots of color, fantasy, pretty clothes take our minds off what’s happening in this country, in the world all around us
    I’M thinking big Hollywood musicals in the 30s that got peoples minds off the depression
    of their troubles, think Gatsby can do similar
    I don’t understand bringing in Jay Z for music, when you think of all the great music that was out there in the 1920s, but will be interested in seeing how it all plays

  15. Marc S. LA says:

    I saw an advanced screening of this film in November 2012, and I had the same reaction as the writer of this article. I wonder if the film did not improve because it was so limited in its conception and target audience. The screening I went to was 98% white people, ages 18-40s. The screening was put on by The Screening Exchange, and while I was waiting in line, I noticed that certain people were not being let into the film such as a openly gay male couple (I was shocked to hear a manager of The Screening Exchange explicitly tell them that gays were not welcomed to the screening) as well as a group of black men; I don’t know the reason they were not allowed in. Perhaps if there had been a better sample size then the film could have evolved into something more comprehensive and ultimately better.

    • Fitzzz says:

      I find your comments about gays & blacks being turned away, and not welcome very hard to believe
      I think if that had been true, it would have been a big news story
      They would have been out parading with banners at one end of the street, and looting at the other

      • Marjorie Smith says:

        I don’t believe a word you say. This is one of those apocryphal stories dredged up to drum up sympathy for homosexuals and African Americans. Neither needs sympathy. Get real.

      • Missy Raven says:

        …exactly.

      • Marc S. LA says:

        I find your stereotyping of gays to be ignorant and offensive. Not everyone who is discriminated against makes a big deal about it. I only saw that one gay couple turned away, and one of the men started crying in the lobby. I do not know why the black men were turned away. I never said it was because they were black. All I said was they were turned away, and I also noticed most people in the theater were white. Maybe it was a coincidence. You should be careful about the assumptions you make about people. It only furthers hate and discrimination. The screening exchange does have a reputation of screening people as well as films (check out yelp). I am wondering if you work for the film or The Screening Exchange.

    • Al Milson says:

      It looks like the movie is for gay people. It looks like a garish version Bridehead Revisted with a boyish woman and Tobey and Leo are Sebastian and Charles.

  16. Jacqueline London says:

    So excited, can’t wait to see it. Leonardo D should have won an Oscar so many times. He is a virtuoso, an extraordinarily compelling actor. Can’t wait! And definitely, going to see it in 3D! The whole production sounds fantastic, entertaining, visually spellbinding. What a show!

    • Renny Hartmann says:

      Me, too. I expect it to be all the excitement Gatsby meant to inspire at the parties he didn’t really attend. Fitzgerald was mocking all that, but he was very well aware of the 20s excesses, because he lived them all.

  17. Laurence Glavin says:

    I didn’t go to see “Catch 22” because the primary appea lof the book wasn’t the narrative but the gimlet-eyed view of the military, even in a “good” war. It just wasn’t translatable to the screen. I have the same regard for “The Great Gatsby”; Unless the narrator reads aloud passages from the novel as written, I don’t see how it can succeed. I’ve seen trailers that highlight the soundtrack, which is another turnoff. Soundtracks with an aesthetic from a later era can work: many romantic films and westerns that employ late-nineteenth symphonic styles a la Rachmaninoff and Sibelius (he lived well into the 20th Century, but discontinued composing long before he died) are acceptable. A film like “The Great Gatsby” that would seem to appeal to a chronlogically adult population shouldn’t feature a soundtrack whose appeal is to those who listen to crappy FM stations aimed at adolescents.

  18. So did you like it or not?

  19. SARAH FITZGERALD says:

    One of the most important American novels of all time bastardized by English and Australian actors and director who knows nothing about the historical content of F SCOTT FITZGERALDS work
    The roaring 20s -the beginning of the rise of the MAFIA thru prohibition which would give rise to the FBI, the excesses which would give rise to the GREAT DEPRESSION and the DUST BOWL and the World War…. the fact that Beyoncé and JAY Z have anything to do with this great novel nauseates me

    • Sarah says:

      Going by your logic, all American adaptations of British literature should be panned, because “How can the foolish Americans possibly understand the historical content of this work?” There are various directors of different nationalities that could have tackled this film. Baz Luhrmann is an otherwise mediocre director with a taste for visual excesses, so it’s hardly surprising. Moulin Rouge was his only decent film, and even that is highly overrated.

    • Sarah says:

      Blithering, bumbling fool, aren’t you? I don’t remember people commenting and complaining about the ‘bastardisation’ of British literature by its American adaptations (Dickens, Shakespeare, J R R Tolkein, etc). I think you need to relax your tits, and, perhaps, reserve your unintelligent criticism for later; maybe, ‘after’ you have watched movie?

      An adaptation isn’t ruined by the nationalities and races of those involved with the production, it is ruined by the ineffective execution of such films, whether it is in terms of acting, direction, scripting, casting, music production, & etc. If you know your literary history, then Disney’s best animation features are based on European fairy-tales. I don’t here the Danes complaining about the suddenly inclusion of a Jamaican crustacean sidekick for Little Mermaid, neither do I hear the British whinge about Robin Hood’s American accent.

      Shinichiro Watanabe’s popular anime Samurai Champloo (2004) was set in the early Edo period. Yet, the director chose an anachronistic soundtrack for the 17th century-set anime: Hip-hop. The result was truly splendid, even though, we are talking about Japanese animation. But, why should live action be any different?

      If the director(s) and producer(s) are skilled, creative and intelligent enough, it is definitely possible to pull off a movie with the anachronistic soundtrack formula. It’s been done before, and many times to great effect. From all the reviews I have read, the OST for the movie gets a nod from most critics. In fact, many have congratulated JAY Z for his production, yet a same number (or more) have lambasted Luhrmann for fluffing the piece of literature by missing the entire point of Fitzgerald’s novel, which is essentially a social commentary on upper-class white America (in the same way that Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road was a social commentary on suburban white America). However, not one of the criticisms was levelled against the (Oh! No! How can it ever be!) atrocity of involving (Gasp!) British and Australian skills. If that is your major concern about Hollywood, then I’m afraid you have the intellectual range of a toothpick.

      How about you criticise the movie on fair grounds?

    • C Wilson says:

      “the fact that Beyoncé and JAY Z have anything to do with this great novel nauseates me” Oh, is that because they aren’t intelligent enough to appreciate it like you do? Just because they are hip-hop/rap/R&B musicians means they’re stupid and ought not be involved with that kind of material? The Great Gatsby is absolutely one of the most important American novels and it’s one of my favorites and I definitely have reservations about this film. HOWEVER, It’s clear what your comments imply and I find them incredibly offensive.

      I intend to SEE the movie and LISTEN to the soundtrack before judging it. And lastly, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s brilliant novel remains as brilliant as it ever was. It’s not as though this movie or any future adaptation somehow eviscerates it.

    • Al Milson says:

      Isn’t the sound track hip hop and rap with cop killa sh*t and rapin them hoes?

  20. Barry Hussein says:

    Does “cheerfully anachronistic soundtrack” mean he incorporated ghetto “music” crap into a movie set in the 1920’s?

    • Sarah says:

      “If she gets unruly, and thinks she don’t want do
      Take my 32-20, and cut her half in two”

      JAY Z or Robert Johnson? Mull over that for a few. I think the only problem with JAY Z is the same problem with Luhrmann: superfluous excesses. All quantity and no quality. Otherwise, the musical experimentation probably would have worked better.

    • Lou says:

      I didn’t realize Lana Del Rey, Florence + the Machine, Gotye, and The xx were ghetto? Also, I imagine people made similarly disparaging comments about jazz before it became an American art form.

      • meryl says:

        I think it’s hilarious how everyone loves to constantly call out hip hop for its blatant use of misogyny and homophobia. Not saying that these issues dont make rap alot harder to listen too., But I hardly ever see people criticizing other music genres for lyrics that are just as bothersome. At the end of the day all media we consume is problematic. It’s really ignorant to just dismiss a whole genre of music. Not to mention a bit immature.

      • Barry Hussein says:

        Right, because jazz is all about misogyny and foul-mouthed 5th-grader rhyming by morons. Just like rap.

  21. Jim says:

    When you realize that Jay Gatsby is Al Czervik, Tom Buchanan is Judge Smails, Nick Carraway is Danny–how bout a Fresca?–and Daisy is the Bushwood Country Club itself, it all starts to make sense.

  22. jhkjhkjhk says:

    Sounds like a flick to see drunk and stoned just to enjoy how awful it is. But Baz is Bad, not in the ghetto sense, and I found Moulin Rouge execrable, and Romeo + Juliet = dog doo. And when did chicks start wearing prosthetic nails? Those Lee glue-ons Daisy wears look like they might fly off into somebody’s vichyssoise.

  23. Joe Ynot says:

    This is a decent review, but if Gatsby is about anything other than its characters (which always come first), it’s about the decline of the old upper class (hint to reviewer: the action takes place after WW1, and the main characters are veterans) and the rise of the new upper class.

    The problem with filming “Gatsby” is that directors are seduced by the spectacle of the physical manifestation of wealth, music, parties, love, lust, beauty, etc, and forget to the detriment of story and character. Daisy Buchanan is about the hardest role to cast that I can think of, she must be beautiful, seductive, and loving, and yet ironic, narcissistic, and cynical. The only modern actress that I can think of who could successfully bring of the role is Catherine Deneuve, who is obviously not in a position to do so.

    There’s no arguing with taste, of course, but if you have a bad impression of this book, read it through a second time, paying very close attention (it’s a very short book) and you may be rewarded. It very much deserves its reputation.

  24. bill1942 says:

    In other words – nothing new, no imagination, same old fairey-dusted tripe that H’wood always turns out these days.

  25. schm0e says:

    lol @ Drudge’s headline.

  26. GustyGasby says:

    It’s bad, more bromance than romance. More fluff than story. He should have been a music video director, not feature film. And mis-cast – like all the other films

    • Al Milson says:

      Doesn’t “Baz” load it up with Hip Hop music? They shot most of this nonsense in Australia. Did Fitzgerald mention kangas, dingoes, koalas and other marsupials in the book?

      Hollywood spews out such rubbish just like TV. I unplugged O-Hollywood and O-TV back in 2008 and will never go back. Endless violence and other trash.

  27. Victoria says:

    Sounds absolutely dreadful. And Carey Mulligan is just a blank in everything I’ve seen her in. I will be sure to stay away.

  28. George Valentin says:

    I will go out on a limb and predict a Best Costume Oscar for this movie.

  29. clare says:

    I loved it, bold, brassy and so Baz, a wonder to behold, awesome

    • Bill Bailey says:

      I agree…. thought it was brilliant. Love people who take time to ‘critique’ something they haven’t actually seen. Must have very quiet lives and good imaginations.

  30. trickyk says:

    Interesting point and I agree, as it sums up the problem well: “What Luhrmann grasps even less than previous adapters of the tale is that Fitzgerald was, via his surrogate Carraway, offering an eyewitness account of the decline of the American empire, not an invitation to the ball.”

  31. Brendan Winter says:

    As I have predicted since hearing Luhrmann was in charge, this sounds likes an abomination.

  32. epomert says:

    I remember reading Gatsby in high school, the same year we read Salinger, Thoreau, Emerson, Twain, and Whitman. Fitzgerald had nothing on these guys. I’d never re-read him. I wouldn’t think twice about going to see this movie except for the pleasure of beholding Luhrmann’s kinetic cinematic gusto.

    • PB101 says:

      You mean you’ve read one-two book of each. In the same way that I’ve listened to Sweet Child, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Layla, Stairway to Heaven, so I’m a rock expert.

    • Lou says:

      You read all those in high school? You must be a literary luminary. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your post because here I thought that Gatsby, Tender is the Night, The Beautiful and Damned, and This Side of Paradise were some of the finest works of 20th century American literature. And yet, you find the “style is greater than substance” glossy veneer of Luhrmann’s work appealling? How curiously contradictory.

      • EJ says:

        Fitzgerald is one of my favorites and I too have read every title you mentioned. However, there seems to be a personality type that just doesn’t “get” him. I think it has to do with one’s outlook on the world, as in my experience, all the bashers of his work I’ve come across have a similar personality type. Hopefully after this film though, everyone will give on the adaptations of Gatsby once and for all.

    • Ian Dowsett says:

      i think this hits the nail on the head. the reason gatsby is unfilmable is that it isn’t as good a book as people think. it looks better than it is because it draws more than a few brilliant images of people and places, but narratively it’s a mess; a shambolic bunch of connections between things. and a bunch of interesting characters who disappoint you by failing to do anything interesting. and a poor story doesn’t leave you a lot of options for telling it well. maybe this is why baz abandoned so much in favor of images

      • Th_Ph says:

        The reason so many films of Gatsby fail is because Hollywood types read the book upside down. Gatsby isn’t meant to be glamorous, he’s meant to be ridiculous. He wears a pink suit for God’s sake, as Tom Buchanan observes. Daisy is an old money girl and Gatsby thinks he can crash the upper class with a brass band display of vulgar and tasteless conspicuous consumption. His tragedy — and the point of the book — is that social mobility is a mirage. But Nick both admires Gatsby’s pluck while being stupefied by Gatsby’s own inability to see the futility of his campaign to be a part of Daisy’s world.

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