By SEBASTIAN MOORE
Baz Luhrmann’s stylistic journey reaches an indulgent low with his adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby.
For those unfamiliar with the source material, The Great Gatsby follows would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he recounts a period in his life that took place in the 1920s. Having left the Midwest in search of greater opportunities, he moves to New York City where he lands himself next door to a mysterious, party-throwing millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who lives across the bay from Daisy (Carey Mulligan), Nick’s cousin, and her deceitful husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton).
Luhrmann has attempted with this adaptation to radicalise Fitzgerald’s novel, injecting pop music and grand visuals to appeal to the senses. The in-your-face style is stimulating initially, but there’s no variation. It’s the same beat for two and a half hours. And in the end, it dwarfs Fitzgerald’s material, reducing it to a story of a social climber who doesn’t get the girl.
The characters are given no time to develop, and are often pushed aside in Baz’s masturbatory pursuit to recreate the razzle-dazzle of the period. The actors are merely pawns, posturing inside a heightened reality that sacrifices soul for spectacle.
I wouldn’t be surprised if everything in this film was shot in front of green screens. The 3D only acts to accentuate this feeling of emptiness.
The script, co-written by Luhrmann, is filled with stilted dialogue, and often borrows lines, word for word, from the novel.
For the most part, he seems more interested in the costumes and visual artifice to give any sort of consideration to the subtleties of the novel.
On its own feet, the film passes as entertaining fluff, but as a revamp of Fitzgerald’s classic, it is a frustratingly soulless endeavor.