Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire
Genre: Drama, romance
Australia is huge, over-the-top, brash, extravagant, colourful, uninhibited and in your face. Baz Lurhmann is huge, over-the-top, brash, extravagant, colourful, uninhibited and in your face. His take on the Great Gatsby is huge, over-the-top, brash... Okay, you get the point.
Following the style manual he evolved for Moulin Rouge, spicing it up with big performances from stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, Baz takes us on a ride to decadence and cheap thrills.
The fact that the novel is stylish, complex, subtle and sophisticated will give many of its fans pause for thought. But Baz's movie is just his reading, throbbing with contemporary references to excess and venality. For a closer match to the F. Scott Fitzgerald book, check out the 1974 film version directed by Jack Clayton from a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola.
Baz, by comparison, doesn't have the word "nuance" in his vocabulary. So expect an energetic, shallow, glittering cascade of images and all too few of the moments of poignancy and intimacy through which the author originally carried this tale of lost love in the wrong time and the wrong place. Maguire narrates the film in flashback as if sporting a hangover. Jay-Z makes a musical contribution that does, at least, bring the movie alive with a kind of detatched exhilaration. But again, it's Gatsby Vegas rather than Gatsby Manhattan.
Some will reel out of a viewing proclaiming the experience as exciting and different. Many more will stagger home exhausted and reach again for the iconic novel, convinced this was not the book they have just seen exploding onto the silver screen. Get a taste for the actuality right here, right now.
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