So Baz Luhrmann gave Gatsby a go. The film was long-awaited and before it was out, there was a lot of talk about actors, costumes, sets, and the postponed release date. Luhrmann, and the rest of the world, made sure everyone knew Gatsby was coming.
The critics have spoken, and their voices are mostly negative. Well, not all of them, and it’s not unexpected, as the master of glitter and glam took on one of the most popular literary works of the 20th century. Side effect of this promotion mania: the most anticipated movie of the year 2012, and later 2013, gave everyone a lot of time to make up their mind before they even saw the movie. Everyone is bound to have an opinion or feels like they should have one, which seems to be great for Baz’s wallet.
Before heading over to the Brussels premiere last week I avoided all reviews. If you’re in any way a Luhrmann fan, you kind of know what to expect. Drama, music, dancing, and a lot of love. Colorful sets and costumes, over the top personalities, cast numbers that feel comparable to certain epic movies from the fifties. The greatest attack of the senses there could be. The movie was exactly how I expected it to be: Baz’s Gatsby. Not what I made him out to be when I (attempted to) read the book years ago. To me, the whole discussion begins and ends with this quote by Baz Luhrmann in this interview: ” There will be people I can’t please of course, which is why I had to block out all that noise about expectation or “oh he’s doing it in 3D” or “Oh hip hop”, “Oh it’s all gonna be flash and dazzle…”. Listen, Gatsby is flash and dazzle, the character, but at the end it’s Leonardo, and Joel Edgerton and Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and lovely Elizabeth Debicki in a room in this hotel for seven minutes. Just acting, tearing each other’s emotions apart. It couldn’t be more minimal.”
On a personal level, the 3D is the only thing that wasn’t really a plus for me. It’s like one of my friends said afterwards:” I feel like I missed out on details, because there is already so much going on.” I was surprised that by the end, Baz toned down the flash and dazzle, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Chills when the windows open and the wind plays with the curtains. Emotions bordering ecstasy when Gatsby is finally introduced with fireworks and the heavenly dramatic tunes of Gershwin. An “I have to pin this” moment when Gatsby waits for Daisy in the middle of all those flowers. And absolute silence when those seven minutes in the Plaza hotel Luhrmann refers to happen. On an even more personal note, I’d like to thank Luhrmann for allowing Leonardo DiCaprio to be handsome again. And smile. And not in the evil Django way.
Is this my favorite Baz Luhrmann movie? Not yet. But I can’t wait to see it again. And again.
Photo Credits: Warner Bros.