Posts Tagged ‘Baz Luhrmann

12
May
13

The Great Gatsby

As we continue further into Hollywood’s make or break season, this past weekend provided more evidence that Hollywood is indeed stuck in a prolonged phase of unoriginal concepts for films. The F. Scott Fitzgerald literary classic, The Great Gatsby, made its debut on the big screen.  Directed by Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby stars Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Carey Mulligan.

Set in the roaring 1920’s, The Great Gatsby features Maguire as integral character and narrator, Nick Carraway.  As the film opens, we first encounter Carraway during a therapy session as he recovers in a mental institution from a laundry list of issues.  As part of his recovery, Carraway is encouraged to write and as he scribes furiously, we soon hear that famous opening line as our story begins.

In addition to being the film’s narrator, Carraway is a World War I veteran, who is now a bond salesman and a struggling writer.  Soon after renting a small, modest house on Long Island across from his cousin, Daisy (Mulligan), her husband Tom, and their lavish mansion, Nick becomes intrigued by his rich, mysterious, and virtually unknown neighbor, Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio).  Night after night, Gatsby’s mansion holds extravagant soirées attended by a who’s who of the rich, powerful, and famous.  One day, out of the blue, Nick receives a personalized, handwritten invitation to that night’s celebration at Gatsby’s plush mansion.  Little does Nick know, his attendance at the party sets in motion a series of events with unforeseen and ultimately tragic consequences.

To start things off, the performances leave will you desiring so much more.  Without a doubt the biggest disappointment comes from the performance of Mr. Titanic, Leo DiCaprio.  To come from Django Unchained, where he was terrific as evil plantation owner Calvin Candie to whatever this was is baffling.  He’s irritating, annoying, overacts and spouts “old sport” ad nauseam.  DiCaprio also produces some of the cheesiest moments I’ve ever seen in a film. At one point, Gatsby turns to the camera in slow-motion with a huge grin; this sent the audience into a fit of laughter.  That’s a problem, considering it wasn’t supposed to be humorous at that moment.  Tobey Maguire turns in a very Tobey Maguiresque performance. He’s predictably boring, bland, and dull.  When you have names like Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan attached, you expect so much more and it just wasn’t there.

The Great Gatsby is terribly uneven in feel and at 2 ½ hours, way too long. The first half of the film focuses on the setting; sweeping views of 1920s New York City, the mansions, the clothes, the outrageous and constant parties.  Point made. But the film stresses the setting over and over.  Not until the 2nd half of the film does it center its attention on the actual story and interplay between characters and then it feels odd and forced.

The Great Gatsby could’ve been a good film, but it’s a case where the director gets in the way. There’s way too much style and way too little substance.  Do yourself a favor and read the book instead.

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