Gatsby Just Not That Great

Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan star in Baz Luhrmann's adaptation
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2013 7:21 AM CDT

Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby arrives with much fanfare—but, based on the reviews, it looks like those high hopes might be dashed. Critics are mixed on the film as a whole, though no one disputes that it's as bombastic as might be expected from Luhrmann.

  • Among the bad reviews is Joe Morgenstern's in the Wall Street Journal. He calls the film "dreadful," noting that the tale of American excess is "told idiotically, full of noise and furor, signifying next to nothing." It's "a spectacle in search of a soul." Another ouch: "Given the lifelessness of the enterprise, there's little point in belaboring its failure to convey the novel's themes."

  • "Luhrmann’s vulgarity is designed to win over the young audience," writes David Denby in the New Yorker, "and it suggests that he’s less a filmmaker than a music-video director with endless resources and a stunning absence of taste."
  • Other critics are more measured. "The best way to enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s big and noisy new version of The Great Gatsby—and despite what you may have heard, it is an eminently enjoyable movie—is to put aside whatever literary agenda you are tempted to bring with you," recommends AO Scott in the New York Times.
  • Sure, it's "a gargantuan hunk of over-art-directed kitsch, but it makes for a grandiose, colorful, pleasure-drenched night at the movies," writes Dana Stevens at Slate. "Far from betraying the spirit of Fitzgerald’s novel, Luhrmann treats the book with a loving mix of straight-ahead reverence and postmodern playfulness."
(More The Great Gatsby stories.)

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