(WLTX) - The Great American Novel gets some grand Australian novelty in Baz Luhrmann's take on Fitzgerald's classic. But is more flash and flare really necessary for a story filled with subtleties? Or does it just get in the way?
For anyone who hasn't read the book or seen the 1974 movie (starring Robert Redford), "The Great Gatsby" is about the changing times of the Roaring Twenties and one man's insatiable desire for acceptance.
Our window into this life of opulence is provided by Nick Carraway, a bond salesman by trade and aspiring writer. He has recently moved in next door to the wealthy host of New York's most lavish parties. Little does he know that his own cousin, Daisy, is the very reason this mysterious millionaire even puts up such an elaborate front. She's another man's wife but Gatsby is determined to acquire her as his own...regardless of the cost.
Despite the movie's strong cast, the acting seems to take a backseat to artistic interpretation. That, however, is par for the course with Luhrmann's films and (all things considered) was still relatively restrained. Nevertheless, when the story feels like it's the least important component, something is usually wrong.
A Jay-Z driven score is certainly ambitious and appropriate with this director's tapestry. But, since it does take place during that time known as "The Jazz Age," I can't help but feel like this is an opportunity lost.
I will say the movie is visually stunning. In fact, I anticipated the 3-D glasses to be a completely useless upgrade. However, the extra depth helps pull you into this extravagant world and observe the green light from far across the water.
I almost expected the movie to simply be titled, "Gatsby." And, given the way it turned out, this probably would have been a better move - because the word "great" does not belong.
By Lee O. Smith, News19 Movie Reviewer