After as much buildup as The Great Gatsby had – making headlines and sparking a catwalk trend a year and a half before its long-delayed premiere – disappointment was almost inevitable. So long awaited, no wonder it’s hated (by about 50% of critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes.) I, however, having watched most of Baz Luhrmann’s films and loved none, didn’t expect much from this adaptiation. Perhaps that’s why I ended up enjoying it immensely.
Of course, forget the book. Luhrmann himself said he had directed “a great, tragic love story,” causing Fitzgerald to turn in his grave and literary historians to gnash their teeth. It’s a bit like making Crime and Punishment into a slasher.
But, actually, when you leave behind all literary pretences and cut out the “difficult” parts, Dostoyevsky could turn out to be quite good horror movie material. And so does the 1925 novel translate very gracefully into a dramatic romance-cum-videoclip-cum-140-minute-long fashion show, complete with plenty of the original text and a bit of contemporary rap. Yes, like Romeo+Juliet, but better.
If Spring Breakers left you craving for more parties on screen, Gatsby will have you delighted. It’s longer, even more over the top, and in 3D, which means you can almost dive into Jay’s private swimming pool (minus getting wet) and almost reach for one of the champagne trays (minus the taste and the hangover, though chances are you’ll get dizzy from all the special effects.) You’ll see nowhere near as much nudity (DiCaprio in a swimming suit is as far as it goes), but the fashion is splendid. And the company you’ll find yourself in is way more interesting than a bunch of stoned Disney starlets.
Leonardo DiCaprio is a charming old sport in the namesake role. Carey Mulligan as Daisy may be less so, but Aussie beauty Elizabeth Debicki bursts with allure, playing her darker friend. So does Gemma Ward (my major girl crush) in her teeny-weeny bit role. Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway is cutely awkward and trying to fit in – yaaay, at least I had someone to identify with! And Lana Del Rey, serenading the theme song, is a dream fit with her seductiveness, bittersweetness (if that’s a word) and fakeness. Too bad she doesn’t appear on screen.
Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?
I don’t know,
old sport new film. But I’m crazy in love with you now.