We’ve been waiting a long time to see “The Great Gatsby” on the big screen.
Last year, Warner Bros. pushed director Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the classic novel back six months to avoid clashing with Christmas releases.
Since then, numerous excellent trailers for the film have debuted, the film has helped boost sales for the book immensely, but “Great Gatsby” reviews are sounding like Luhrmann’s latest could be one huge Hollywood disappointment.
The most critical reviews say it’s too flashy, too over the top, and 3D lyrical poetry coming at you off screen is a bit much for some.
Not all the press is bad. Many are satisfied with Leonardo DiCaprio’s take on the wealthy Jay Gatsby and were blown away by a surprise, brief role by newcoming actress Elizabeth Debicki.
Though the overall film rating continues to decline on Rotten Tomatoes—it’s currently at 43%— the movie is still tracking high among those who wish to see it at 98%.
These initial reviews may mean nothing. Currently, 65% of all ticket sales for Thursday on Fandango are for “Gatsby.” According to the ticket seller, 94% of those seeing the film said they want to see the movie for its costumes, set design, and “grand scale imagery” while 61% consider themselves fans of the director.
The film stars DiCaprio as the titular character, Carey Mulligan as his naive, married love interest, Daisy Buchanan, Tobey Maguire as narrator (Nick Carraway), and Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan).
Here’s what you should know before seeing the film.
No one questions whether Luhrmann stays true to source material.
“Luhrmann’s personal connection and commitment to the material remains palpable, which makes for a film that, most of the time, feels vibrantly alive while remaining quite faithful to the spirit, if not the letter or the tone, of its source.”
For the most part, people love DiCaprio’s take on the famed character of Gatsby.
“His charisma has increased as his youthful prettiness has worn and thickened away, and he is beautiful, sad, confident and desperate in exactly the way Gatsby should be.”
“DiCaprio successfully calls on all his movie star charisma to become the film’s only person of interest … reminiscent of Orson Welles’ youthful and energetic Charles Foster Kane.”
“DiCaprio is a total misfire as Gatsby, thick and expressionless and unable to evoke any real sense of longing.”
However, “Gatsby” does something we feared it would do — rely too much on Tobey Maguire for narration:
“Transformed into voiceover, the running first-person narration of Nick Carraway (here played by Tobey Maguire) turns stilted and dry (presumably a problem the silent version avoided).”
“The final stretch is slowed by too much commentary by Nick, who has become a bit of a bore by now.”
No one cares for Carey Mulligan’s interpretation of the wealthy, desired Daisy.
“Luhrmann’s direction of his actors cudgels every instinct of naturalness out of them and pushes everyone, even as instinctively genuine an actress as Mulligan, toward overblown characterizations and stilted line reading.”
“She’s down-to-earth pretty (a tad mousy) rather than unattainably glamorous. She does well in Daisy’s most challenging scene, in which she has to oscillate between the desires of two impossible men, the monomaniacal Gatsby and the overentitled Buchanan. But it’s possible to forget she’s in the movie.”
he real stars of the film—Elizabeth Debicki and Amitabh Bachchan—are barely in it.Variety:
“The lithe, long-limbed newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as gabby golf pro Jordan Baker, and, in a single scene that marks his belated Hollywood debut, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan as the flamboyant Jewish “gambler,” Meyer Wolfsheim.”
“She’s [Mulligan] upstaged by an Australian actress named Elizabeth Debicki, who, as Jordan Baker, is all sleek insouciance, an archtypal New Yorker flapper cartoon brought to vivid life. You could project on Debicki till the cows come home.”
“Newcomer Elizabeth Debicki is exceptional as Jordan Baker, a minor character who seems to actually threaten to bring the film to life during each of her scenes, but it’s not enough.”
3D may be a bit much on the eyes.
“Luhrmann’s 3-D visual flourishes feel superfluous: Occasionally, words pop out across the screen as Nick feverishly writes Gatsby’s tale … None of it contributes to a sense of immersion.”
It’s over the top with
less focus on character depth and more on design and visuals.Variety:
“He [Luhrmann] unleashes every manipulation he can think of — sepia flashbacks, smash zooms, split screens, superimpositions, period newsreel footage, new footage degraded to resemble period newsreel footage — all of it coming at you in three stereoscopic dimensions.”
“Technically, Luhrmann’s in show-off mode from the opening of the film to the close, and it’s all very impressive in terms of sound and image. His use of 3D is dazzling as a way of drawing you into these spaces, and the production design and the costuming is all opulent, suggestive of an era rather than slavishly accurate.”
“The director has fashioned a gaudy long-form music video — all kaleidoscopic spectacle and little substance — rather than a radiant new take on an American literary classic.”
“This film marks the official moment in which Baz Luhrmann’s signature style has become self-parody. So we beat on, boats against the current, jumping the shark.”
But that’s Luhrmann. If you loved Moulin Rouge, you should enjoy Gatsby.
“Of course, to accuse Luhrmann (who also co-wrote the screenplay with frequent collaborator Craig Pearce) of overkill is a bit like faulting a leopard for his spots.”
Overall Consensus: Check it out
“The Great Gatsby” is one of the most difficult films to adapt to the big screen. There have been four previous attempts between TV and film. If you’re a fan of Luhrmann, it sounds like you’ll love it, just know you’re in for a lot of sensationalism.
“Gatsby” is in theatres Friday, May 10.
Watch the latest trailer for the film:
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