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First Review Calls It a Basically Okay 'Gatsby'

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by Matt Singer
May 2, 2013 10:44 AM
5 Comments
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"The Great Gatsby."
"The Great Gatsby."

Ahead of its May 10th release date (and its Opening Night bow at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival), Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" premiered in New York last night. Early reactions are hard to come by so far, but I've already read one full-length review, from The Guardian and Vogue contributor Tom Shone on his blog These Violent Delights.

Shone gives the movie a B- overall, and has mixed to positive things to say about most aspects of the production, including the performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and the 3D direction by Baz Luhrmann. According to Shone, Luhrmann slightly refocused F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic novel for the big screen, changing its subject (slightly) from money to celebrity:

"As 'Romeo + Juliet' showed, Luhrmann is not so much a romantic as a chronic fetishist of romance. He mounts huge pop-art embellishments on the theme of certain emotions -- the look of them, the sound of them, the pop cultural density of them -- without the bother of actually feeling them. His heart, it turns out, is elsewhere... It's hard to mistake the compliment Luhrmann is paying himself here, nor the hint of intolerance contained in this film's rotation of glassily perfect images. Is Gatsby a character study of a chronic perfectionist, or just a film made by one? The movie ends with DiCaprio breaking the surface of his pool, alone at last, as if letting the burden of this handsome, hectic movie slip from his bronzed shoulders. How strange that this most phantasmal of characters should, in DiCaprio's rendering, be the most rock-solid presence in the film."

Shone's review is the first and only one I can find online so far. But there will plenty more opinions about "The Great Gatsby" soon, old sport, don't you worry.

Read more of "REVIEW: 'The Great Gatsby' (d. Luhrmann)."

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5 Comments

  • austin111 | May 3, 2013 1:13 PMReply

    There has also been a very long and detailed (too detailed) review by Mary Margaret Daniel of the film. She is rather more generous than Shone in her review. She has had a distinguished career as a professor at Princeton, among other big schools, and is a historian of Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. One thing seems clear and that is that DiCaprio comes over rather well in both reviews as does Edgerton and to a somewhat lesser degree (although Daniel likes Mulligan's Daisy better) Mulligan. Daniel appears to find rather more to like in Maguire's Nick than does Shone. Both reviews make me more inclined to see the film than I was initially, though, since both are more scholarly. That and another semi-review in a recent LA Magazine by another author and critic whose last name is Erickson, I believe. None of these reviews seems to be less than at least in B territory, if not more.... a decent sign. I certainly feel that there are plenty of negatives that will come forward as well. This will be a most polarizing film to be sure.

  • . | May 2, 2013 8:10 PMReply

    and more: ...One of the most notable changes in the movie is that Jordan Baker loses her importance entirely. Debicki plays her with passionate intensity and lanky energy, none of which is directed at Nick. Nick is not very interested in Jordan either. Despite Daisys quip at their first meeting that she’s going to arrange for them to fall for each other by throwing them together – into social situations, into linen closets – they have no relationship in Luhrmanns Gatsby.

  • Essgee | May 2, 2013 7:40 PMReply

    Sadly the review has now vanished from cyberspace. :-(

  • Magic Mike | May 2, 2013 7:27 PMReply

    yikes. the other thing I've read is: The funniest, okay, the only funny paragraph addresses the narration by Tobey Maguire€'s Nick Carraway character: "€No act of Dionysian revelry is quite as laborious as the one narrated in voiceover by Tobey Maguire,"€ Shone states. "He's all over this movie, regrettably. Luhrmann has clearly tried his utmost to rev up Maguire'€™s notoriously lethargic delivery, he still he manages the excitement levels of a small marsupial, recently awoken from hibernation by the roaring twenties and now anxious to get back to sleep.€" ouch.

  • Magic Mike | May 2, 2013 7:24 PMReply

    yikes. the other thing I've read is: The funniest…okay, the only funny paragraph addresses the narration by Tobey Maguire‘s Nick Carraway character: “”No act of Dionysian revelry is quite as laborious as the one narrated in voiceover by Tobey Maguire,” Shone states. “He’s all over this movie, regrettably. Luhrmann has clearly tried his utmost to rev up Maguire’s notoriously lethargic delivery, he still he manages the excitement levels of a small marsupial, recently awoken from hibernation by the roaring twenties and now anxious to get back to sleep.” ouch.

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