Over-the-top director Baz Luhrmann doing Gatsby parties in 3D? The roaring twenties with Jay-Z doing music for Jay-G?
The Great Gatsby has landed and while the reviews are picking this adaptation of Fitsgerald’s classic apart, I personally think that Baz Luhrmann's vision of the roaring twenties dazzles. Today’s hip hop music over twenties jazz in this movie turns out to be perfectly appropriate. And I was pleasantly surprised at how tight Luhrmann kept to the novel’s tone and dialogue (despite an added opening and closing framing device).
I think pairing Baz and his layered, busy visuals with a story we’re all familiar with is the perfect way to tell this story today. Especially since we’re talking about the Gatsby ‘20s where everything went too far.
When Luhrmann spoke in Dallas, for the debut of Moulin Rouge, he mentioned that a musical needs a very simple and familiar story. I think that thought can also apply to the heavy visual and strong soundtrack style he does here. His best film is a modern adaption of another classic work of literature, Romeo and Juliet.
What failed him most with Gatsby (vs. Romeo) is, ironically, the performance from the same actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his lack of consistent chemistry Carey Mulligan. The back half of the film requires a little more soul than we get, darnit.
Simply put: Good, not great. You’ll be dazzled, but probably not moved.
Award potential: Keep waiting, Leo old sport. This is unlikely to be remembered 9 months from now. Even the music is too controversial. However, fashion will be affected all year.
The ten buck review: Worth ten bucks. 3D is not necessary.