I was reluctant to read any review that basically summarised The Great Gatsby as ‘a bit OTT’ as that would surely be missing the point. Of course it was going to be as garish as a kebab shop at Christmas – this is a Baz Luhrmann film, not Emmerdale. You don’t go to a dubstep rave expecting a barn dance. Be reasonable, people (*cough* Peter Bradshaw *cough*).
Hipsters, Leo fans and anyone who wants to know what the circus would be like on acid will love The Great Gatsby.
This is a respectful and compassionate adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s infamous book set in the mischievous 1920s. Even the on-screen glitz and hip-hop beats can’t distract from the excellence of the dialogue as some of the most wonderfully woven paragraphs from the novella are performed, in their entirety, with panache. This might be something to do with Leonardo Dicaprio’s fabulous performance. Leo is a great Gatsby, and getting back together with the man that gave him one of his finest roles (Juliet’s Romeo of course) makes for a wonderful reunion.
Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) is gorgeous to watch. Sure, she’s a bit vacant, but so is the dozy, suppressed character in the book. Besides, there’s only room for the cartoonish egos of Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) on this screen.
Of course, the film smacks of Baz Lurhmann. His love of exaggeration is… well, exaggerated. He must have wet himself a bit when 3D was invented as it meant his penchant for flinging things close-range into the camera (not to mention his fetish for facial close-ups) could be taken to a whole new level.
So perhaps the 3D is unnecessary. But Baz is a sucker for unnecessary: even the cocktails have three too many mini umbrellas. He’s doing it because he can.
Nabbing hip-hop extraordinaire Jay-Z must have been a light-bulb moment: of all the musical genres, which is the most outrageously preoccupied with ‘bling’ and lewd behaviour? And who better to flaunt their musical majesty than the guy who frequents the Forbes list and has the ‘hottest chick in the game wearing his chain’?
Jay-Z may have been perfect to provide the score, but the music isn’t as jiggy as you might hope. It’s unfair to compare, but the soundtrack to Romeo & Juliet was more memorable. Gatsby could have done with a bit more swag to join the enjoyable, but not remarkable, Amy Winehouse covers and fancy Florence And The Machine tracks.
Releasing The Great Gatsby now, with its themes of vulgar wealth, seems fiendishly apt. In a world where the word ‘gentrification’ is said with a snarl and remarking on the widening rich/poor divide is as common as complaining about the weather, this film serves as a parody of our times. As Fitzgerald once was, Baz is scoffing at decadence and shallow-rooted wealth.
Hipsters, Leo fans and anyone who wants to know what the circus would be like on acid will love The Great Gatsby. If you’re a fan of Luhrmann’s unique brand of cinematic assault, you’re in for a bumpy yet brilliant ride.