Baz Lurhmann's adaption of "The Great Gatsby" has critics split, with some complaining that the 2013 version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic is "all sparkle, no soul," while others are heaping praise on the film, calling it a must-see.
Set in the Roaring Twenties, the film follows a young Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire), who has moved into a cottage on Long Island's wealthy West Egg neighborhood with dreams of making it big on the New York Stock Exchange. Across the bay is the old-moneyed community of East Egg, where Nick's cousin, the dazzling socialite Daisy (Carey Mulligan), lives with her cheating husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton).
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Despite the drama, everyone gathers each weekend at the opulent mansion of millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who befriends Nick with hopes of reconnecting with Daisy, the one who got away.
Lurhmann, known for his visually ambitious takes on "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo + Juliet," puts his mark on "The Great Gatsby" through 3-D presentation and cinematographic twists, but that is the critics' main caveat — that the film is too flashy and over-the-top.
Here are the best and the worst highlights from "The Great Gatsby" reviews.
On the film's faithfulness to "The Great Gatsby"
"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." (The Hollywood Reporter)
On "The Great Gatsby" 3-D presentation
"Luhrmann's 3-D visual flourishes feel superfluous
: Occasionally, words pop out across the screen as Nick feverishly writes Gatsby's tale … None of it contributes to a sense of immersion. The director has fashioned a gaudy long-form music video — all kaleidoscopic spectacle and little substance — rather than a radiant new take on an American literary classic." (USA Today)
On the over-the-top cinematography…
"[Luhrmann] unleashes every manipulation he can think of
— sepia flashbacks, smash zooms, split screens, superimpositions, period newsreel footage, new footage degraded to resemble period newsreel footage — all of it coming at you in three stereoscopic dimensions." (Variety)
"There's a reason 'The Great Gatsby' continues to be taught in classrooms nearly 90 years after it was written. It's a dazzling time capsule of a shimmering era
and a devastating look into the dark side of the American dream. Too bad Luhrmann, the caffeinated conductor, doesn't trust that story enough. He'd rather blast your retinas into sugar-shock submission." (Entertainment Weekly)
On "The Great Gatsby" laggy second half:
"This is what I found so infuriating about Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of 'The Great Gatsby': It's wary half-heartedness disguised as trashy spectacle.
If you're going to do trashy spectacle, at least have the conviction to go all the way… I went into this movie wanting to see ramped-up nonsense. I went into this movie wanting to experience a hip hop-infused caricature of the Roaring Twenties. Instead, I almost fell asleep, twice, during an afternoon screening." (Huffington Post)
On the acting…
"DiCaprio makes a splendid, Oscar-caliber Gatsby
, capturing the dark side behind his affected bonhomie as no actor has done since Alan Ladd in 1949. He's perfectly abetted by Maguire's hard-drinking Nick, whose yearnings may never be fulfilled." (New York Post)
"The Great Gatsby" is in theaters May 10.
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