Sunday, May 12, 2013
The Great Gatsby - My Review
The Great Gatsby - 2013 - Directed by Baz Luhrmann
I am not a fan of Baz Luhrmann. He is a visually artistic director who frames every shot in bright multiple colors, uses CGI which enhances the color and not the experience, mixes old-time sensibilities with modern pop and hip-hop and worse yet creates worlds where the characters must fight to be heard over the overwhelming distractions. He is the second coming of Tim Burton to me. All style and no substance.
Most people who go see this movie are aware of the story. A reclusive millionaire, Jay Gatsby, (Leonardo Dicaprio) living in the area of "new money" NYC, throws lavish parties and meets his neighbor, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who is the cousin of Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), Gatsby's long lost love. They form a friendship while Gatsby attempts to lure Daisy away from her husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton.)
Luhrmann introduces us to the world of Gatsby early on with the first of the film's many exorbitant parties. A phantasmagoric display of men and women dancing and drinking, a pulse pounding soundtrack featuring Jay-Z booming on the films soundtrack, Gatsby hovering in the shadows. This honestly was the beginning of the end for me. Gatsby throws the parties to get Daisy's attention but in the hands of Baz they are serenades to Jay. Everyone their is in worship of him and the film loses its balance immediately. We've bought a ticket but we aren't invited to the party.
Carraway is the narrative force behind the film and Tobey Maguire, with his blank, bright eyed stare is all wrong to play him. He doesn't fit the roaring twenties. He too worships Gatsby as a God, before he even meets him, yet he too is like us. An outsider trying to not fit in but to break away.
Carey Mulligan is the right note for Daisy, Joel Edgerton is even better as her slimeball husband but among the supporting cast its newcomer Elizabeth Debicki, as Jordan Baker, who shines the brightest and seems to understand the most what is being asked of her.
Dicaprio is pitch perfect as Gatsby and the films only saving grace. He hovers over the movie even when not seen, moves gracefully while maneuvering through the old money types, all the while presenting the best portrayal of Gatsby to date. Though not a favorite of the Academy he deserves a nomination for his mesmerizing performance.
In the film Carraway states, "You can't repeat the past." Clearly you can and Luhrmann is proof positive of that. No matter how many detractors, he continues to create over-the-top, visually stimulating and emotionally bankrupt films to a legion of ardent supporters. Its about time I stop watching his films.
Rating: 2 out of 10