Film Review: The Great Gatsby (No Prior Reading)
Baz Luhrmann’s previous film Australia could not have been further from his prior work. Films such as Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet, inspired by the images and cutting style of MTV, films that helped to usher in ultra-modernity within Hollywood cinema in some ways. Few film goers will deny just how disappointing Australia was upon first viewing. Structurally a strong enough film with good performances and a decent story, sadly the film lacked Luhrmann’s directorial signatures. It seemed that, with the coming of his film The Great Gatsby, we would see a return to the lavish style that exudes over saturated colour and flashy pop music that make Luhrmann’s films such a rush.
The Great Gatsby does certainly not disappoint in this area. The film's soundtrack is one of the best I have heard this year. Produced by Jay-Z with tracks from the likes of and Lana Del Ray and Florence and The Machine among others. It’s visual style is just what one would hope for when seeing a film by the man who is currently Australia’s most internationally successful film-maker; gorgeous costumes, elaborate sets, shiny lights and extreme colours. However something unexpected comes with Gatsby and that is the fairly slow, calm feel of the film in retrospect to his earlier work. If Australia was Luhrmann’s failed attempt to create a more mature film, Gatsby is his successful one.
The film is almost always on the verge of orgasmic explosions such as the ones we find in the introduction to the Moulin Rouge in his earlier film, however, Gatsby seems to have more control over itself. It is somewhat disappointing at times, as if we are waiting for the punch line to a joke that never comes. Despite this, towards the end, the film does make good of itself and ultimately it is very satisfying as a creative piece from a visual and structural stand point.
Although it is undeniably pretty to look at, for a film that is based on a highly celebrated classic novel, the story falls rather flat. I have yet not read The Great Gatsby but I am aware of its importance as a piece writing. It is because of this that I was surprised how at times the film does seem to lose its heart. Ultimately the film is a love story, something that is not really explained in any of the promotion for the film, for this reason I'm sure many will be surprised and disappointed.
Gatsby is a very enjoyable film but I won’t deny that my opinion of it is a little bias due to my enjoyment of the films aesthetic qualities. Sadly though it is undeniable that the film's writing does have its problems, sagging heavily in the middle the film is at its peak in its first and final act, both in terms of the plot and from a filmic stand point.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby McGuire and all the of the ensemble cast give wonderful performances that help to carry the film at the times in which it does run into trouble. Overall the film is a very entertaining time at the cinema, if you can make through the middle. It could have been more, however, if you go into Gatsby not expecting Romeo & Juliet you will probably not be disappointed.