May 9th, 2013
04:44 PM ET
"The Great Gatsby" has yet to be successfully adapted by Hollywood and - depending on which critic you ask - Baz Luhrmann hasn't pulled it off, either.
When it comes to the director's take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's slender novel, critics have found it to be full of style but lacking in substance.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the titular "Great" Jay Gatsby, a man hiding his humble beginnings behind his new money and put-on airs. Carey Mulligan's taken inspiration from the Kardashians to play Daisy Buchanan, the wealthy woman Gatsby desperately wants but who's also married to the brutish Tom (Joel Edgerton). Tobey Maguire, as Daisy's cousin Nick Carraway, serves as the narrator of the tale.
After months of anticipation - and plenty of leaks from the soundtrack - Luhrmann's "Gatsby" will bow in theaters starting tonight. The general consensus from critics is that you should leave any expectations established by Fitzgerald's classic outside of the theater, and come prepared to strap in for a very glitzy ride:
Time magazine: "No question that Baz Luhrmann has concocted the worthiest, tenderest and most extreme of these adaptations."
Rolling Stone: "Aside from the staggering beauty of Catherine Martin's costumes, nothing works. The actors are buried in the art direction, along with feeling. The film looks as stiff and lifeless as a posh store window ... There may be worse movies this summer than 'The Great Gatsby,' but there won't be a more crushing disappointment."
USA Today: Luhrmann "has fashioned a gaudy long-form music video ... So much effort seems to have gone into the eye-popping production design, swooping camera work and anachronistic musical score that the result is hyper-active cacophony rather than enthralling entertainment."
New York Times: "[D]espite what you may have heard, it is an eminently enjoyable movie. ... Mr. Luhrmann’s reverence for the source material is evident. He sticks close to the details of the story and lifts dialogue and description directly from the novel’s pages. But he has also felt free to make that material his own, bending it according to his artistic sensibility and what he takes to be the mood of the times. The result is less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward, lavishly theatrical celebration of the emotional and material extravagance that Fitzgerald surveyed with fascinated ambivalence."
Chicago Tribune: "Despite a few good ideas and the uniformly splendid production and costume designs by Luhrmann's mate and partner, Catherine Martin, this frenzied adaptation of 'The Great Gatsby' is all look and no feel. .. If you liked 'Moulin Rouge!' — Luhrmann's hyperactive ode to Paris at the end of the 19th century — you'll probably find a lot to admire here."
Los Angeles Times: "The director has steadfastly proclaimed his passion for the novel, but the film he's made of it too often plays as no more than an excuse to display his frantic, frenetic personal style."
Entertainment Weekly: "There's a reason 'The Great Gatsby' continues to be taught in classrooms nearly 90 years after it was written. ... Too bad Luhrmann, the caffeinated conductor, doesn't trust that story enough. He'd rather blast your retinas into sugar-shock submission."
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