Although the trailers for Baz (Moulin Rouge) Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby contained a threateningly large quantity of eye-popping razzle-dazzle, the film is, at least by Lurhmann’s standards, a relatively subdued affair. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic Jazz Age novel that critiqued the modern American soul continues to sell in the hundreds of thousands, and on paper Luhrmann seemed a good choice to adapt this rather symbolic tale of a naïve Midwesterner dragged into the opulent homes and decadent lives of a group of self-absorbed Long Island socialites.
Surprisingly, this tragic tale of love, greed, and power is rarely emotionally involving, while its principal characters are mostly uninteresting. Tobey Maguire as the Fitzgerald-esque narrator who recalls the story in flashback is the only person who seems to break through the film’s stylized façade. The usually excellent Carey Mulligan (An Education), playing the limp but beautiful narcissist caught between two powerful millionaires, makes for a rather dazed Daisy. And Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as the eponymous Jay Gatsby has a few compelling moments but mostly seems self-conscious (and after the first hundred utterances of “old sport,” couldn’t he have given it a rest?). As is often the case, you’re better off staying home and reading the book. M
The Great Gatsby ★★½
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Carter
PG 13 – 154 minutes • Continues at The Empire 6,
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