Apparently, it’s already open season on Baz Luhrmann’s version of “The Great Gatsby,” which blasts off in 3D on Friday before opening the Cannes Film Festival next week. I have a hunch the knives have been out since it was postponed from its 2012 release date.
But don’t believe the hate. “The Great Gatsby” is not a terrible film; indeed, it’s a surprisingly affecting one.
I’m no Luhrmann apologist. I’m one of those who thought “Moulin Rouge” was silly and overrated. As for his indigestible “Australia” from 2008, well, at least the continent itself survived.
Yet I found myself pulled into the emotional world of Luhrmann’s “Gatsby,” despite only a couple of really outstanding performances and an in-your-face phoniness to the imagery which the film wears as a badge of honor. In translating F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about the 1920s, Luhrmann turns it into an indictment of conspicuous consumption and the erosion of the human spirit that inevitably results.
In spite of the trappings of 3D and a Jay-Z-infused soundtrack, Luhrmann does find the beating heart at the center of this overstuffed enterprise. It rests firmly in the person of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby, who single-handedly breathes life into a film that is nearly sunk by the glum Carey Mulligan and the lightweight Tobey Maguire.
The story – in case you never took high-school English – is about the attempt to reclaim lost love (and the past in which it existed). It is told by Nick Carraway (Maguire), recently returned from World War I and attempting to make a go of it in the financial world. He rents a small cottage on Long Island and finds that he lives next door to a fabulous mansion, home to extravagant parties.
This review continues on my website.