The Luhrmann pop-lit aesthetic had its moment. Romeo+Juliet hit right smack in the middle of the teenage years for a generation of Millennials, and it’s enjoyable and certainly unique (though I’ve never liked that play). Now, coming off a critical failure in his last movie, Luhrmann’s trying to recapture that old mid-Nineties DiCaprio magic. Gatsby has always been difficult to film – there have been six adaptations, and while I have not seen them all, none of them have been heralded as "good". But I’m willing to bet none of them are this obviously horrible.
I’ve never seen a trailer in which you can tell so many people are so clearly miscast within ten second increments. Carey Mulligan may be a decent actress, but her clumsy attempt at a Southern accent speaks to ruination of one of the true feminine characters in the entirety of American literature. Luhrmann’s rumored fave for the role, Blake Lively, couldn’t be worse, and that’s saying something. There is not a single actor in the thing who looks comfortable in the role, and the glitz and glam shrieks of this being an Occupy Wall Street take on American capitalism, which Gatsby never was. The CGI New York looks more like Tron. I can’t tell if I prefer the terribleness of Tobey Maguire’s non-acting to that bearded fellow’s overacting. And DiCaprio, poor DiCaprio, simmers with the confused emotion of a man who has just tasted plain yogurt when he thought it was vanilla. Here, toss some shirts.
Katherine Miller writes: “I really do think there's something to the cultural divide. As showcased in the trailer and the general aesthetic of the film, which of course is Luhrmann's usual aesthetic, it's like the gaudiest American thing possible. Which is showcased in parts of that book, but that's not what the actual story is about. It's like what a foreigner would note about an American.” She’s right. Perhaps this is the problem with getting an exaggerated music video director from Australia, once the toast of Hollywood hip (that scene with Radiohead!) but now fresh off a Nicole Kidman disaster and closing in on fifty, to handle a story that’s full of American apotheoses.
I’m not even a Fitzgerald fan, but Gatsby is as quintessentially American as you get: the architectural structure of a story, within which the reader is left to his or her own devices to take ideas. Instead Luhrmann is asking for your money to vomit sparkly things in your face and call it art.
I am sure when you first read it, you thought: "This Gatsby thing is pretty great, but what it really needs is dubstep and 3D." Am I right?