I am NOT a Baz Luhrmann fan with his self-conscious overindulgence in excess. Lately I have been paying more attention to the opening credits (down to the fonts that are used) shown at the beginning of a film, giving me a glimpse into what I will have to look forward to for the next few hours. So from the start, my aesthetic taste was being tested as I inwardly cringed at a movie that straddled comedy and tragedy ending up being a burlesque parody.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby has been laying on my night table ready to be picked up and read for about a month, but if I were to judge the original book by this adaptation, I would toss it into the garbage. I love a unique literary voice – and language – but this flat lusterless cinematic interpretation could not be saved by the glitter and gloss which screamed out at us with every frame – no cake under all that icing.
Despite Director Baz Luhrmann’s cast of fine actors, they were unable to breathe life into this romantic fable of deception and obsessive love set in the “free-spirited” postwar 1920’s “Flapper Era.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s narrator, Nick Carraway, portrayed by Tobey Maguire, is the linchpin of the story that begins and ends with worshipful utterances about his mysterious, wealthy, ostentatious party-hosting neighbor - the flamboyant Jay Gatsby (a preening Leonardo Di Caprio,) who adores Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) a daughter of “old money”, married to a racist, womanizing “lout.” The plot thickens when we find out that Daisy and Jay were once lovers - the re-telling of an oft-told tale.
This film version of The Great Gatsby never convinced nor touched me. Why did Gatsby merit such fascination, unless it was the allure of the Horatio Alger myth reaching for the dream of America’s unlimited opportunities in a society that claims to eschew class distinctions?
If you love spectacle this is a movie for you. I found it visually boring and commonplace.