The Great Gatsby (2013) ** Cannes Film Festival 2013

May 13th, 2013
Author: Meredith Taylor

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Director: Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan

143mins        Romantic Drama

If you like your films brash, glib and raffling then Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby is for you. It takes a slim volume by Scott Fitzgerald, almost a novella, and turns it into an opulently gargantuan feast of a film at nearly two and a half hours, that is sumptuous to look but far too much to endure in one sitting and leaves you feeling rather unwell. And to make matters worse, this all-singing, all-dancing affair is in 3D.

The main drawback here is that the top table visuals are simply too heavyweight to support the lightweight script. And the book’s subtle and finely crafted romantic lost love affair is swamped with a long drawn-out courtship that feels leaden and overworked despite excellent performances from the leads, who are well-cast and watchable.  Narrated in flashback, there is a  21st century angle of having Toby Maguire’s Nick undergo therapy for his alcoholism and to underpin this he sports a sullenly condescending expression throughout the proceedings.

The film is magnificent in its recreation of the Long Island parties and extravagance of the roaring twenties but if you’re looking for a really great Gatsby then my advice would be to stick with the Jack Clayton 1974 version until a better one comes along. MT


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