australia, baz lurhmann, carey mulligan, f scott fitzgerald, isla fisher, jay-z, jazz age, lana del rey, leonardo di caprio, moulin rouge!, period drama, roaring twenties, the great gatsby, the great gatsby 2013, tobey maguire
Well, the music was fun. And it looked nice, I guess.
But let’s be real guys, if the best thing you can say about an adaptation of The Great Gatsby is that it’s pretty, you’re doing something wrong.
I’ve tried to like Baz Lurhmann. I really have. But Gatsby solidifies my belief that he is an incompetent director. I think it’s chiefly because he seems to be under the impression that his audience is stupid. No, we can’t have a shot which lasts longer than three seconds, the audience’s attention span won’t last that long. No, we can’t make a period film which actually feels like the period and not like modern actors dressed up in silly costumes, the audience will get bored.
The ‘Baz Effect’ comes off worst when it comes to the characters. Although I admire Leonardo Di Caprio (sometimes), he is not Gatsby. Robert Redford embodies the dreamer turned bootlegger turned gentleman. There was an exquisite subtlety to his performance which allowed you, the viewer, to think for yourself and bring your own interpretation to his character. But hey, mystery is sooooo passé – let’s have Di Caprio mug his way through the performance instead. We wouldn’t want the audience to get confused, now would we?
Tobey Maguire still can’t act, and Carey Mulligan is totally miscast as Daisy (which, in fairness, is also one of the hardest parts to pull off because she has to be both an object of desire and a reality). Mulligan is a talented actress, but watching this clearly smart and capable woman attempt to pull of vapid, skittish dysfunction is a little bit painful. That being said, I did appreciate the attempt made by the writers to flesh out a pretty sexist caricature so that she actually approaches a human being.
Ultimately, this film is kleenex – view once (preferably on a big screen) then discard. It’s like watching someone vomit glitter for two and a half hours, without heart or emotional punch. Whilst the first half is mildly entertaining, the second half falls completely flat because of incompetent performances and even more incompetent direction. It has no shelf life and no additional value to be gained from repeated viewing.
Watch my review of Sense and Sensibility (1995) here.
Read my review of Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) here.