Baz Luhrmann is not known for his restraint. His films are bright and brassy, everything is turned totally up to 11 with big design, showy camera moves and ultra paced editing. Critics have said he stretches the boundaries of visual eye candy a little too far, he is shallow, it’s all surface and no substance etc. I’ve always been a staunch supporter of his (I will not hear a word said against Moulin Rouge!) but on the evidence of the trailer for his upcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby, those naysayers may not have been that far off the mark.
From the simple look of the film, Gatsby looks to deliver what we’ve come to expect from Luhrmann: exploitative flamboyance, only this time it looks quite shit. The recreation of period, 1920’s New York could not have come out of anyone else’s head and the palette is clearly that of a man who has strolled into a crayon store and decided to go completely nuts. Luhrmann, no matter what people have said in the past, does know every now and then how to exercise restraint and yet here there is no evidence of this. It more or less looks like a Zack Snyder adaptation of Fitzgerald.
It looks like a perfume advert. In fact, this looks more like his infamous Chanel commercial than an actual cinematic tour de force. I have no idea why it is going to be in 3D, I’m not quite sure what it will add other than more extravagance. I’ve never been sold on 3D and I don’t think Luhrmann is going to change my mind.
The performances do look massively overwrought, Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio are acting with a capital “A” whilst Joel Edgerton looks positively ridiculous and Tobey Maguire stumbles around the sets with a gurning grin on his face as if he’s dropped a lot of acid and then looked down a kaleidoscope.
This is a shame because The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite novels (as it is for most people) and seemingly Luhrmann’s version is again going to prove that Fitzgerald is not the easiest nut to crack on screen. We will have to wait to fully judge the final product but the signs aren’t good so far.
The Great Gatsby will be released in cinemas on Christmas Day. Watch the trailer below.