Good Grief, Gatsby | Film | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Search
Settings
Pin It
Favorite

Good Grief, Gatsby 

Baz Luhrmann's Technicolor Wank Fest—Now in 3D!

I don't know if other readers of The Great Gatsby will relate to this, but I tend to almost forget that Gatsby is a novel of the roaring '20s, full of flappers and fast cars and gin-fueled debauchery. When I think about Fitzgerald's book, I think about that far-off green light at the end of the pier, representing all the things we think money can buy us, and about James Gatz's tireless, doomed quest to reinvent himself, and about how Daisy Buchanan is a total cooze.

So it was a surprise to see, at a recent screening of director Baz Luhrmann's new film adaptation, audience members dolled up in fringed, drop-waisted dresses, just like the shallow, thrill-seeking partiers who pack Gatsby's house night after night. That's a bit like dressing up as Jar Jar Binks for a Phantom Menace screening, right? Well, in this case, no: In Luhrmann's hands, Gatsby is sheer spectacle, and these lavish, over-the-top parties are the centerpieces of a lavish, over-the-top film.

The film introduces a dopey framing device for Fitzgerald's classic story—Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is at a sanitarium in the Midwest, see, recovering from a case of "morbid alcoholism" he picked up back East (WebMD gives me that diagnosis all the time). As per morbid alcoholism's well-known "novelist cure," his doctor encourages him to write about his recent experiences in New York. And so in addition to Tobey Maguire's already-annoying voiceover—"this movie needs more of Tobey Maguire's resonant baritone," said no one ever—we're treated to 3D lines of text that drift across the screen like the effluvia of the world's most pretentious skywriter. Throw in newsreel-style montages of the glittering 1920s, and Luhrmann ensures his audience will remain safely insulated from emotion, character development, or any idea more complex than "Carey Mulligan is pretty" for much of the film. (Note: Carey Mulligan is pretty.)

A few scenes will make you forget that Baz Luhrmann jizzes Technicolor: When Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) insists that Nick arrange a meeting with his long-lost love Daisy (Mulligan), then goes ridiculously overboard fixing up Nick's house for afternoon tea, we catch a glimpse of a different, better movie, one where 3D window dressings are set aside for an actual character study—and one that DiCaprio, incidentally, would be perfect in. (Tobey Maguire, on the other hand, has always been the most milquetoast actor in Hollywood, so it comes as no surprise when he eventually slams the door on West Egg and yells, "Fine! I didn't want to play with you guys anyway!")

And as for the parties, thrown by Gatsby to lure in Daisy from across the bay? The parties are a Baz Luhrmann energy blast of sound and spectacle—if you've seen Moulin Rouge or Romeo + Juliet, you probably already know how you feel about that. The dresses are pretty, the cars are shiny, the girls are good at wiggling their tummies, and the wildly anachronistic soundtrack? That, actually, is just kind of confusing. (What if Fergie and will.i.am are time travelers....)

F. Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby is about how the belief that wealth can buy happiness is corrosive (to paraphrase an essay I got an A on in ninth grade). Baz Luhrmann's Gatsby is about how rich people throw the best parties! And while they undeniably do, to give in to the spectacle is to miss the point.

The Great Gatsby

dir. Baz Luhrmann

Opens Fri May 10

Various theaters

Rated PG-13

Now Playing

The Great Gatsby and The Great Gatsby 3D are not showing in any theaters in the area.

Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

What others are saying

  • Readers also liked…

    Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
    Youth Leadership Project @ Elk Lake

    Youth Leadership Project @ Elk Lake - Elk Lake Resort

    Mon., July 26
    Submitting an event is free and easy.

    Newsletter Signup

    Get Central Oregon daily news
    directly in your inbox

    Now Playing

    By Film...

    By Theater...

    Get Social

    Latest in Film

    • The Florida Projects

      • Jul 21, 2021
      Zola deconstructs social media and the modern moment More »
    • Spy Game

      • Jul 14, 2021
      Marvel's "Black Widow" is too little, too late More »
    • May the Source Be With You

      • Jul 7, 2021
      Your July Edition of what to watch and listen to includes a thought-provoking indigenous podcast, along with "Loki" and "Shadow and Bone" More »
    • More »

    More by Alison Hallett

    Want to advertise with us?

    For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

    © 2021 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

    Website powered by Foundation