reader report

You gotta go see: The Great Gatsby

LACKLUSTRE: The film wasn't able to capture the beauty of the literary classic.
LACKLUSTRE: The film wasn't able to capture the beauty of the literary classic.

Going by the all the media hype, the excitement surrounding the soundtrack and the glimpses of exuberant parties in the trailer, I was expecting big things out of The Great Gatsby.

A classic story by F. Scott Fitzgerald coupled with Baz Luhrmann's cinematic flair for the flamboyant could surely only result in a cinematic masterpiece. Right?

Unfortunately, the the movie just doesn't get there. Fitzgerald's enchanting prose that makes the book a literary classic and the subject of high school curriculum was unable to be converted to cinema.

Stripped of literary impact we are left with a dull storyline filled with aloof characters. The spineless Tobey McGuire narrates the story with the same lack of conviction and confidence as he displayed as Spiderman. Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as Gatsby is superb although creates a character that difficult to connect with.

Gatsby is held in revere by the narrator and is the central hero of the story despite being a recluse and having unhealthy fixations on wealth and a married woman. His eccentricities wound me up the wrong way and by the seventieth time I heard Gatsby use his catch phrase "old sport" I was secretly hoping for webbing to shoot from Spidey's wrists and gag the nutty old fool.

Luhrmann attempts to compensate on the lacklustre plot by bombarding the audience with colour, special effects and sound. The result is an incredible array of fantastical parties with some of the most elaborate costumes you will ever see. The soundtrack is exceptional and almost makes up for the movie's deficiencies in other areas. Almost.

Unfortunately, Luhrmann's attempt to hide his mediocre storyline behind a curtain of glitz, glamour and sound was about as successful as an insecure, balding, middle aged man hiding his inadequacies by driving a Porsche.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a ride in a fast car as much as the next guy, but it can't make up for inherent shortcomings of the driver.

The movie's final line, "so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" was a beautiful illustration of Fitzgerald's literary prowess and a swift reminder of what this film was unable to capture.

The line alluded to the title character's frustration at what could have been - something I was able to relate to all too well as I watched the credits roll.