The Great Gatsby: Early US reviews mixed
Story by Jack Foley
CRITICS in America have greeted Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby with a mixed response so far.
The film, which is opening the Cannes Film Festival on May 15 ahead of its UK release on May 16, opens in America on May 10 and has already been seen by a handful of US writers.
Primary among these were industry magazines Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, both of which found positives and negatives in the film.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote of the film: “As is inevitable with the Australian showman [Luhrmann], who’s never met a scene he didn’t think could be improved by more music, costumes, extras and camera tricks, this enormous production begins by being over-the-top and moves on from there.
“But, given the immoderate lifestyle of the title character, this approach is not exactly inappropriate, even if it is at sharp odds with the refined nature of the author’s prose.”
It adds: “At the very least, Luhrmann must be given credit for delivering a real interpretation of the famous 1925 novel, something not seriously attempted by the previous two big screen adaptations (there was a now-lost 1926 silent version).
“But no matter how frenzied and elaborate and sometimes distracting his technique may be, 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.”
Variety was less forgiving, however, writing: “It comes as little surprise that the Aussie auteur behind the gaudy, more-is-more spectacles Moulin Rouge and Australia has delivered a Gatsby less in the spirit of F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel than in that of its eponymous anti-hero – a man who believes bejewelled excess will help him win the heart of the one thing his money can’t buy.
“What Luhrmann grasps even less than previous adapters of the tale is that Fitzgerald was, via his surrogate [narrator] Carraway, offering an eyewitness account of the decline of the American empire, not an invitation to the ball. But Luhrmann identifies far more strongly with Gatsby than he does with Nick, and instead of a tragic figure undone by his false optimism and unrequited yearning, the character becomes an object of envy – someone whose swank mansion and runway couture would be awfully nice to call one’s own.”
Finally, Indiewire found something more positive to say, opining: “The Great Gatsby is a guilty pleasure, a swirling, audacious piece of cinema – in 3-D! -that could prove a crowdpleaser for young audiences. Set during the Roaring Twenties, the classic F Scott Fitzgerald novel has been a fave of high school and college kids for decades.
“It plays young, partly because it’s about young people in love – or their idea of love, which judging from this latest take on the story, makes people incredibly stupid.”
Next story: Luke Evans to play lead in The Crow remake