There's a scene in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby in which Leonardo DiCaprio's hyper-rich, super-awkward Jay Gatsby takes it upon himself to redecorate the bachelor pad of his less prosperous friend, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). Gatsby's old flame, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), is coming to Nick’s for tea. Eager to impress her, Gatsby has brought in boughs draped with explosive white flowers, macarons in every color of the paintbox and tiered cakes straight out of Marie Antoinette's court. "You think it's too much?" he asks Nick. Nick offers the polite answer: "I think it's what you want." The Great Gatsby is both too much and what Luhrmann wants, less a movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel than a movie version of Jay Gatsby himself. It’s polished to a handsome sheen and possesses no class or taste beyond the kind you can buy. And those are the reasons to love it. The performers often look lost, but the movie moves, breathes and has color on its side. Though Fitzgerald couldn't have known it, he wrote a scene tailor-made for 3-D, the one in which Gatsby rummages through his collection of brilliantly colored silk shirts and tosses one after another toward his lady love. In Luhrmann's vision, they float down around Daisy like polychrome snowflakes. It's all so fake. It should all be so horrible. But really, all Luhrmann has done is build a crazy art deco Taj Mahal to the glory of The Great Gatsby. Like Gatsby, Luhrmann is a faker but not a phony. Fitzgerald knew the difference. Can we see it, too?
Baz LuhrmannLeonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan, Elizabeth DebickiBaz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce, F. Scott FitzgeraldBaz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Douglas Wick, Lucy FisherWarner Bros. Pictures