Ben Oliver

Banner image for The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

I knew it was a great mistake for a man like me to fall in love…
21 June 2014

I have very little time for Baz Luhrmann and this only furthers my disdain for his work.

His version of Gatsby is gaudy, dull and trashy. Yes, Luhrmann paints a picture of decadence but his use of slow motion and cheap Jay-Z songs aren’t bold choices, they are tacky and uncreative. Worse still, he completely misses any nuance and subtlety found in the source material. He basically forgets the point of the whole thing.

Talking of Jay-Z songs; drawing parralels between the excess of the 20s and today by playing hip-hop tracks over the top is a shit idea. It’s going to date the film instantly, and in ten years we’ll watch this and wonder what the fuck they were thinking. It’s not big, it’s not clever.

I understand that trying to make this book work on the big screen was probably not the brightest of ideas, but even so this is surprisingly bad. It feels like a straight-to-DVD Disney film rather than a hard hitting Hollywood adaptation. The decor is trying to be surreal but comes off as cheap. The characters are trying to be larger than life, they also come off as cheap. Sympathisers might say ‘oh it was done on purpose’. Horsehsit. The film looks bad because of crap stylistic choices, nothing else. The insistance on 3D scenes does not help (who the fuck is watching this in 3D?).

DiCaprio is convincing as Gatsby, everyone else struggles. It was sad to see Carey Mulligan, one of my favourite actresses, really unable to do anything with what she’s given. She seems as uncomfortable with the whole production as I do. Tobey Maguire is stiff as a board as Nick Carraway. Joel Edgerton is ridiclous, as is Isla Fisher.

I’d like to see someone who knows what they are doing take this on, instead of a hack like Luhrmann. The Great Gatsby is a daunting book to adapt, but surely someone out there can do something with it worth watching. That said, maybe they already would have if they could…

Reply by email