‘The Great Gatsby’ is largely overwhelmed by wild style
Director Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is the latest film adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. While the plot, dialogue and narration all stick very closely to the book, this “Gatsby” – like Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!” – is directed like a hyper-stylized fever nightmare. The fast edits and quick zooms are used to greatest effect in the many party sequences, which play like music videos.
The casting of Tobey Maguire as audience-surrogate narrator Nick Carraway and Leonardo DiCaprio as mysterious wealthy playboy Jay Gatsby is spot-on, with the actors bringing some of their own personas to the roles. Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton have a few strong moments as Daisy Buchanan and her rough husband Tom, but these less showy parts could have fared as well regardless of who played them.
Even more jarring and confusing than the computer-assisted 3-D imagery depicting 1920s New York is the anachronistic hip-hop soundtrack produced by Jay-Z. Taken all together, this period piece is as far from authentic as possible, but that’s clearly not what Luhrmann is going for. The director makes a unique, flashy statement – just not the one Fitzgerald intended.