The Great Gatsby Review

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Artistic insight or irresponsible excess? The latter unfortunately.

by Casimir Harlow Nov 18, 2013 at 7:25 PM

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    The Great Gatsby Review

    It's a testament to DiCaprio's tremendous skills as an actor - perhaps the greatest actor of our generation - that he still manages to stand out and positively shine in a film which is rife with so much false glitz and fake glamour that you may well find yourself wrapped in a feather boa by the time the credits roll.

    In some ways the false veneer of superficiality was always going to be integral to any adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel - the mysterious subject matter is heavily informed by both Greek and Shakespearian tragedy, whilst simultaneously steeped in the quintessentially American class and race wars of the era from which it was borne - but Director Baz Luhrmann was perhaps not the man for the job.
    Where any other Director would have likely had to up the visual sparkle in the effort, Luhrmann needed to dial it down considerably - something which he is seemingly incapable of. As a result a potentially epic tale of love, delivered masterfully by the central contribution of DiCaprio is smothered and suffocated by Luhrmann's trademark glitter, which gives the impression of a considerably more vacant affair than this great classic deserves.

    The Great Gatsby
    Reuniting with Luhrmann - who delivered him early fame with Romeo + Juliet - may have been a returned favour on the part of DiCaprio, who soars high above the superficial style of the Director's monstrous production, but it simply cannot make up for the rampant style-over-substance approach which leaves you bombarded by empty imagery and comic book visuals which look like somebody took the dominantly black and white Sin City and gave it a retro-fitted colour palette as was popular half a Century ago. It should concern producers when a Director manages to take a classic bit of literature - which has already been adapted numerous times, not least with Robert Redford in the lead, providing arguably the definitive Gatsby - and adapt it with such clumsy, overbearing style that it reminds us more of Zack Snyder's exercise-in-style-over-substance, Sucker Punch, rather than something the likes of Scorsese would deliver, which is arguably what the material more fittingly deserves.

    DiCaprio soars high above the superficial style of the Director's monstrous production.

    After over two hours of enduring Luhrmann's Disney-style mansions, Dick Tracy colour scheme, and over-the-top driving sequences, the mystery of Gatsby finally unravels, only with very little impact as a result of the vacuous packaging. It's such a shame because to story itself is utterly captivating - so much so that a relatively low budget stage production could prove more effective than this - but Luhrmann's excess simply does not let up for a moment, tainting every scene, every line of dialogue, and every committed performance within. The likes of Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke buckle under the weight of the visual shenanigans; their art restrained rather than enhanced by the excess opulence and cloying style.

    Ironically, Luhrmann went on the record in pre-production as stating that he felt the story would be particularly relevant to current times because of its insight into the irresponsible lifestyles of the rich and famous, but the only irresponsibility exposed here is that of the Director's own unrestrained excess. What a shallow waste of potential.
    The Great Gatsby



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