Saturday, 25 May 2013

CAPSULE REVIEW: The Great Gatsby

If Australia is Baz Luhrmann's Titanic, The Great Gatsby is his Avatar; a reduction of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel to gaudy, obvious visual melodrama centred around The White Man's Burden. Well-paced, rarely boring but generally stale and heavy-handed, the film doesn't have much to really recommend it beyond another remarkable turn from Leonardo Di Caprio as Gatsby himself (when he doesn't overdo the intensity, that is). One could marvel at the flow of the narrative, the evocative 1920s production design, the occasionally clever use of music - Jack White's cover of "Love Is Blindness" (listen in the trailer below) is a highlight - and Di Caprio's maturity as a performer, but every other actor on screen is a cipher in this piece of overblown showmanship. Tobey Maguire's Nick Carraway is thankfully deprived of his Peter Parker smirk, but is given little to do apart from narrate the novel back at us. Joel Edgerton's Tom is an obvious Cal Hockley expy. Carey Mulligan has her work cut out trying to imbue the sad, lustful object of Gatsby's affection with any depth; she gives it a good go, but one wonders if we'll ever see her play a part like Sally Sparrow again. All that's left to do when the credits roll is ponder what this adaptation actually has to say: myths are there to be broken, you can only trade on being "great" for so long, and falling in love can change one's plans. But these are things we know all too well, nothing that Luhrmann seems to give one iota about in his baroque extravaganzas. Still, if you liked Avatar, you'll like this, although, as Gatsby himself might say, one should surely expect more from a great book, ol' sport?