Nope. Not at all. Not even a little. Maybe for a second but then, poof, gone. Boring. Fake. Not even close to past work. Uninteresting with horrible editing.
Yup … that’s what I think.
I could go on with sentences like these – if that’s even what you could call them. It would be easy. And yet, even in this hateful prose style, my review would still have more substance than Baz Luhrmann’s newest film experience The Great Gatsby.
To say that I did not enjoy this experience … would be an understatement.
Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge each hold solid places in my “filmophile” heart. I understand the criticisms and agree with some, but the overall experiments in terms of color, music and acting all made for an unusual and interesting movie watching experience that I, still to do this day enjoy.
Not the case here.
With source material that drowns itself in the excess of wealth that New York was seeing in the early 1900s and the flowing booze of Prohibition, the visual potential of Luhrmann’s over-the-top, sensory overload of sound and color style would seemingly be the perfect choice. Alas, special effects that look fake-as-hell (and by fake I mean really bad-fake), a soundtrack that is extremely distracting and an overall heavy handedness in terms of dialogue and acting that treats the audience like a bunch of idiots all contribute to a film experience that was both disappointing and irritating.
Flat and emotionless, the actors and actresses are pushed into scenes that seemingly have no focus and no real meaning. Which is an extreme shame considering the cast that Luhrmann and his team have brought together. Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan. Really. Do I need to say more?
DiCaprio alone is usually worth the cost of admission. I mean, come one. As the title character, DiCaprio was the perfect casting choice. Classically handsome, strong acting chops and that ability to pull off social arrogance had me convinced that this was his chance at Oscar contention after being passed over so many times before. I was wrong. A poor script and worse direction took that away. Tobey Maguire, with his … his … well, whatever … should have been great as the wide-eyed Nick Carraway. And yet … no. Again, a poor script and, well his inability to be a narrator ruined that. On and on, it’s so easy to give give kudos and cheers to the cast for past work, but in this film they are left stranded by their leader with clearly no sense of how to either emote the scenes they in or what thematically they should be focusing on for their characters.
Yes this film is based on F. Scott Fitgerald’s classic (some would say in terms of story I would say only in terms of age) novel of the same name, so criticizing the overall story is a little unfair, but, how the director chooses to represent that story is another matter entirely.
Let’s talk about the visuals. Flat and horrible. Nothing near the splendor of Moulin Rouge, Gatsby just plods from scene to scene with effects that want to be cool but end up just looking more and more fake as the film goes on. Yeah, I get it. The visuals are part of the theme that Gatsby as a character represents … yes. Fake. Yes. But I can put my dog’s paws in paint and say that the tracks he makes are meaningful themes on an insignificant animal in terms of the overall existence of life on planet Earth but that doesn’t make it high art and that doesn’t mean I deserve to waste people’s time by making them suffer through the presentation.
And then … the music. What the hell is up with the music? My apologies to my keyboard but with furious anger I type these words … WHAT THE HELL?!? Layered noise that added nothing to the overall experience pounded my eardrums that gave me nothing but a few chuckles and resounding headache.
And that’s not even the least of it.
I could go on and on, but why. This film has already taken up enough of my life and seriously, I would rather have been changing diapers and folding laundry then spending my time being bored listening to Maguire’s narration tell me about what I was already watching while (fingers beginning to tense with irritation while typing again) wispy words in handwritten script also flows across the screen making you read what Maguire is describing while it is happening.
Oh … oh! Do not see this movie in 3D. Eye-numbingly bad. It’s obvious that the film was not made with the 3D in mind while it was being filmed and the transfer is awful.
Should of … could of … would of. That’s all this film left me with.
2 out of 5 Green Lights Bobbing in the Water