Gatsby? What Gatsby?

Gatsby Mansion

The first words out of my mouth after seeing Baz Luhrmann’s new adaptation of the great F. Scott Fitzgerald novel were in reply to the question, “Baz, what have you done?”  My response, “Taken a giant golden shit.”  And that pretty much sums it up.

I don’t think the blame for this spectacular and spectacularly empty mess can be laid at anyone else’s feet.  The themes of the novel, when not rammed literally down your throat are altogether missing.  There’s nothing of romance here.  Society isn’t called into question in the way he said it would be.  There’s plenty of party, but what a dull affair it is (oh, wait a minute…).  This is no Moulin Rouge, and while it should’ve been something maybe more akin to Romeo & Juliet, sadly none of that feeling is here.  In the end, you just don’t care.

It seems that Luhrmann doesn’t understand a thing about subtlety.  And I’m telling you now, the man should not be allowed to use CGI.  Seriously.

I would talk about the cast, but at this stage I really can’t be bothered.  I just feel sorry that they got caught up in all of this.

One move I can get on board with though, is Lurmann’s decision to use Lana del Rey’s Young & Beautiful as the central musical romantic theme.  del Rey is one of today’s music’s most fake and manufactured stars, and so the fit is perfect.  “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful, I know you will” she sings over and over, but here there is nothing other than young and beautiful.  Here nothing else is real.  In fact, nothing is real at all.  And there is no future to be had.

The thing this film most resembles is a giant bouquet of fake flowers, and not very convincing ones at that.  Sadly, the flowers are one other thing that Lurmann did manage to get right.

There’s a particular grit and reality that American writers conjure up.  They have such a strong sense of place, even in Fitzgerald’s ennui filled purple prose.  Luhrmann offers nothing but a soundstage somewhere in Sydney, which just isn’t quite Manhattan or Long Island in the 1920’s.

What I think Luhrmann should have done was adapt something closer to home, like Australian author John Marsden’s The Great Gatenby and this film should have been made by someone else who has proved themselves more than up to the task of bringing fitting adaptations of beloved literature to the big screen.  Someone like Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Anna Karenina) just as an example.

Now I will go back and re-read the novel to get this bad taste out of my mouth.

(NB: While Google image-searching to find content for this post I found something interesting, and I have a new hypothesis.  Baz Luhrmann saw this picture and then this picture and they inspired him to make a movie.  Now it all makes sense).


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