Gatsby, what Gatsby? – ★★
A film that was penciled in to be released in December of last year and then pushed backed until May is never a good sign. However one shudders to think what we would have been treated to back then if this is the best they can muster now.
Tobey Maguire plays the role of Nick Carraway and annoyingly narrates us through this tale of woe. Just moved into a shack by the bay, Nick constantly hears about a mysterious Gatsby and while never seeing him feels constantly under his watchful eyes. Nick has moved to New York to make his fortune on the stock market and visits his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) who has married old money in the form of Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). At dinner one night Gatsby comes up once again and it appears that Daisy may know more than she is alluding too.
Like all good horror movies you don’t show the monster in the first reel and when at last we meet Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) it’s in a hail of fireworks. This is a prime example of director Baz Luhrmann’s flair for the flamboyant. It shouldn’t come as any surprise given his track record with Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet (both fine films), but what is lacking here is not only the heart but the soul.The supposed passionate relationship between Daisy and Gatsby is about as hot as an ice-cube. Not for one minute do you believe how they can’t bear to be apart from one another and due to the edit, their time together is short not allowing adequate time for us to fall in love with them. Much of the film is played for laughs or high camp and while fine in other films, it grates when trying to create tension or a sense of drama. While watching Drive – which also starred Mulligan as the love interest – you felt that the screen was going to burst into flames anytime her and Gosling’s eyes met.
The soundtrack contains a whole raft of star performers but they are used to little effect in the film, if you re-watch the trailer at the bottom of this review the drama evoked through song doesn’t come close to the actual film. The use of narration is always a dangerous tool as you become bored constantly listening to a voice drone on, a task with which Maguire excels at.
Much has been said about how there is no heart here but at least it looks great. I totally disagree. Seeing the film in 2D the CGI stands out a mile with green screen backgrounds making the film seem cheap and tacky. This may have appeared better in 3D but it is unacceptable for the format in which the majority of people will see the film.
When I first heard about this project and who was attached as well as seeing the first trailer I was very much onboard. Having seen the final product it seems I was taken in and dazzled by the bright lights only to be left feeling betrayed and let down.
Australia, USA / Directed By: Baz Luhrmann / Written By: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce / Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan / 142min / Drama / Release: 10 May 2013 (USA, Canada), 17 May 2013 (Ireland, UK)