Baz Luhrmann, director of Moulin Rouge, blinded by stage antics betrays the beauty and truth of The Great Gatsby and reduces one of the greatest novels to cliches and unintentional comedic nonsense. Piercing the great Gatsby’s heart with a stifling Toby Maguire voice over then soaking it all in hollow colorful 3d reduces Gatsby to a commercial paint by numbers retelling for easy MTV consumption. Pull back the gilded curtain of brilliant color and overly staged direction and be repulsed by what has been destroyed. Gatsby’s grave will never know peace again, there are too many fools treading on it for their own satisfaction and financial gain.
It’s a sad ploy to reduce Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” to visual cliches and a hammer to the eyeballs. Bereft of pacing, style other than a Dick Tracy color palette and proper acting, this candy cane gyrating unicycle smorgasbord of wobbly CGI left me cringing 60 seconds in.
Toby Maguire must be the worse possible choice for Nick, I can imagine. From his scarecrow strange presence, his wide unblinking eyes and wooden mannerisms like a man on stilts crossing a lake fearful of getting wet. His voice is weirdly inappropriate at all times and often merely reiterating what was happening on screen.
As Nick would drink champagne drunkenly, Toby’s voice over would actually redundantly speak “I got drunk” On the nose dialogue was not one of The Great Gatsby’s known qualities but this cartoon movie certainly needs to spell it all out for even the cheapest seats in lobotomy ward.
This isn’t the sentimental tale of lost love and earnest friendship, seen through Nick’s eyes. This is an artificial debacle produced and directed by someone who relishes the flamboyant and organized gala shot into the sky on cue with not a single genuine moment in the entire film. Raise a glass to madness and drink deep, because you will never see a real sky again, it’s forever sugar canes and diabetes for all watching. A saloon spit bowl has more reality to it and is more enchanting.
Gatsby himself arrives in bold CGI cliche with fireworks and flare flying off behind him as he raises a glass to himself and all his glamorous lies, introducing himself to Nick. It’s pure erosive slapstick tearing the soul from the books pages and spilling fruity syrup all over them. No one could eat this plate of detestable straining and posturing derived from the Novel in name only.
Leonardo Dicarprio as Gatsby is a bloated childish horror to watch. His constant twitching and glaring inadequate portrayal of a grown man that has made his own way through a violent world of drugs, hootch smuggling and lord knows what else. Would not be the sniveling quirky billionaire spying at the house across the lake. Quietly bidding his time in secret to find a way to gather Daisy up into his arms and take her away to own her, to care for her and never to let her go. Dicaprio lacks what Redford brought effortlessly to the screen, a deep rooted masculinity that forces Daisy to double think her love of money and security for a fling with a lost love.
Daisy (Carey Mulligan) fashions no charm or grace to speak of, her beauty is roguish, more that of a pugilist and fails to project the sublime lines of Mia Farrow or of a woman that could capture Gatsby’s heart. Her spark is wet, weak and without glamor, still she looks plenty sad and remorseful being the sheep dog for Tom.
Never once did I feel love between the couple, not even a nuclear power plant could jump start Carey’s involvement or desire for Gatsby. Their reunion and affair was far more like the Titanic after it sank. Wet decks and corpses lounging on soggy lounge chairs. The entire romance borders on belly laughs if it weren’t so laughably boring considering the great lengths Gatsby has gone to for such a limp embrace.
Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) is the one meaningful note in the entire chorus of Luhrmann’s ensemble. How he managed to hold a straight face standing under all the blue screen and staring into Dicaprio’s guilty face must make him potentially one of the greatest actors of this century and I will look for him in other films.
The 1920’s Jazz Age, a term coined by Fitzgerald, of The Great Gatsby doesn’t have enough actual JAZZ! It does have Hip Hop, Disco beats and whatever else that will age so poorly as the next pop star rattles the cage of bottled charts. This musical mishmash will be one more element that will anchor The Great Gatsby 3d into asinine trash. Unless one is curious of how to take an era and depict it out of context and incongruous ways so much as to create aged results before the dawn rises.
Thank god Brian Ferry manages to get in to reveal an amazing transformation of his music into 1920’s actual Jazz. Though it is short lived in the film itself and heard only briefly, unless you buy the soundtrack.
One of the vibrant stars of GATSBY, whom Fitzgerald spoke so perfectly of, the essence of New York, the worlds capital, his golden mirage. Yet in GATSBY New York talks the most with faulty lies portrayed in pervasive CGI, so poorly rendered, I imagine teens creating image maps on ancient Macintosh 5 inch CRT screen, thinking “This looks great!” patting themselves on the back and grinning a drunken smile of the inept, while mommy brings them milk.
Zooming back and forth over 3d New York is like watching an ugly 3d cartoon mistake. How did these empty silicone shells posing as New York buildings find their way on to the set of The Great Gatsby? So lacking in authenticity these 3d scenes utterly destroy any reality of being in New York and any basis of realism for Gatsby and the characters that live there. The world they inhabit taints the actors words and reactions reducing the ensemble to mere gruesome dead stick figures. Candy is attractive but I don’t eat it because I know it isn’t good for me.Shooting the Gatsby much like stage work certainly doesn’t help. Too many shots with the camera parallel to the picture plane flattens all depth and the actors faces have little modeling. Lighting like sitcom television only adds to the 2d performances of the cast, reminding me of Punch and Judy times ( at least these acts had shadows) before the stage grew to house such insatiable indignities.
There have been several versions of Gatsby’s masterful work, this being by far the worst.
Of course there will be those that feel the Redford version was too slow or not revealing enough or straight ahead enough. And Luhrmann’s version may seem like rollicking fun like a flea circus or the bearded lady in a traveling tent in a deserted field.
I am not one of those.
“You can’t repeat the past” Toby says
“Why of course you can, of course you can” Dicaprio smirks holding up his pay check.
If anyone dares to repeat this pathetic display of self indulgence, the academy should step in with the lunatic Police and stop them.