‘The Great Gatsby’ takes a stab at one of the most iconic novels in American literature with one of the most rabid fan bases. Is the film a creative masterpiece or just a glitzy, sparkling flop?
Director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!) certainly had his work cut out for him adapting The Great Gatsby (in theaters on May 10) into a movie. The novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is probably on every high school reading list across America, and it is likely one of the most revered books in popular culture, so the movie is under a bigger microscope than most. With his unique, lavish filmmaking style, Leonardo DiCaprio as his leading man, and Jay-Z as his soundtrack, Baz looked to conquer the critically acclaimed beast. Did he succeed?
The Reviews Of ‘The Great Gatsby’
New York Daily News
For those willing to go with the champagne flow, this version has undeniable allure. The party scenes are dazzling spectacles only studio money could buy. The contemporary soundtrack, which combines jazz with Jay-Z, suggests some timeless connections. The Prada costumes and extravagant set design — by Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin — are astoundingly gorgeous. Luhrmann has created an experience, in other words, not unlike the events Gatsby throws himself. Luhrmann piles on one shiny distraction after another. But amid all the seductively gaudy excess, DiCaprio finds both the heart and hurt buried within one of literature’s everlasting enigmas.
New York Times
Mr. Luhrmann’s reverence for the source material is evident. He sticks close to the details of the story and lifts dialogue and description directly from the novel’s pages. But he has also felt free to make that material his own, bending it according to his artistic sensibility and what he takes to be the mood of the times. The result is less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward, lavishly theatrical celebration of the emotional and material extravagance that Fitzgerald surveyed with fascinated ambivalence.
New York Post
Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is the first must-see film of Hollywood’s summer season, if for no other reason than its jaw-dropping evocation of Roaring ’20s New York — in 3-D, no less. Given the director’s penchant for visual bombast and the superhero-sized budget at his disposal, it’s also surprisingly satisfying (and text-faithful) as a dramatization of F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s classic novel — thanks to stellar work by Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role and Tobey Maguire as his neighbor and only true friend, Nick Carraway.
Los Angeles Times
The Great Gatsby began on paper, with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel, and on paper Gatsby sounds like quite the film. On screen, though, things start to fall apart. Directed by razzle-dazzle impresario Baz Luhrmann, this Gatsby boasts the charismatic duo of Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan as romantic leads, 3-D as its format, a soundtrack rife with proven hitmakers, a Jazz Age setting and a theme of the American Dream gone sour that still resonates today. Whatever could go wrong? With some exceptions, a whole lot.
New York Magazine
The best thing about Baz Luhrmann’s much-anticipated/much-dreaded The Great Gatsby is that, for all its computer-generated whoosh and overbroad acting, it is unmistakably F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. That is no small deal. The last major adaptation, in which a recessive Robert Redford reunited with a blank Mia Farrow, substituted deadly Brit tastefulness for Fitzgerald’s polished American vulgarity—the polish (like the characters’ opulence) a façade through which we can discern the baseness of the Jazz Age high life. No one can say that the Aussie hot dog Luhrmann lacks the requisite vulgarity. And no one can say that he tries to upstage his source. In the movie’s inane framing device, Nick Carraway is in rehab typing a memoir overseen by an eager shrink. As Fitzgerald’s words emerge from Nick’s typewriter, they sometimes drift across the screen (into our faces, if you see the film in 3-D)—a ding-a-ling gimmick, but a reminder, at least, that there is a greater Gatsby elsewhere. The movie is juvenile but could have been so much worse.
“Could have been worse” — it sounds like The Great Gatsby is at least worth seeing, right? Check it out and let us know what you think, HollywoodLifers!
WATCH: ‘The Great Gatsby’ Trailer
— Andrew Gruttadaro
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