Review: All sparkle, no soul in ' Great Gatsby'
This film publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in a scene from "The Great Gatsby." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)
If any piece of classic American literature should be depicted on film with wildly decadent and boldly inventive style, it's "The Great Gatsby." After all, who was the character of Jay Gatsby himself if not a spinner of grandiose tales and a peddler of lavish dreams?
And Baz Luhrmann would seem like the ideal director to bring F. Scott Fitzgerald's story to the screen yet again, to breathe new life into these revered words, having shaken up cultural institutions previously with films like "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!" This is the man who dared to stage the iconic balcony scene in a swimming pool, so mixing in a little Jay-Z amid the Jazz Age standards strangely makes sense.
This film publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jason Clarke as George Wilson, left, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, center, and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, right, in a scene from "The Great Gatsby." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures)
But in Luhrmann's previous films, there still existed a fundamental understanding of the point of the stories he was telling; beneath their gorgeous trappings, they still reflected the heart and the purpose of the works from which they were drawn. His "Great Gatsby" is all about the glitter but it has no soul — and the fact that he's directed it in 3-D only magnifies the feeling of artificiality. His camera rushes and swoops and twirls through one elaborately staged bacchanal after another but instead of creating a feeling of vibrancy, the result is repetitive and ultimately numbing. Rather than creating a sense of immersion and tangibility, the 3-D holds you at arm's length, rendering the expensive, obsessive details as shiny and hollow when they should have been exquisite.