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FILM & DVD

The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann infuses the Fitzgerald classic with lots of life but little soul

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            The characters that Luhrmann botches are Myrtle (Isla Fisher), with whom Tom is having an affair, and her husband, George (Jason Clarke). Buried almost entirely by the jazzy jumble of Lurhmann’s style, they never come to meaningful life, and that robs the finale of its emotional punch.

            Luhrmann changes some minor details of the book, and that’s fine, as a film must live and breathe on its own, and not be trapped in a paper plot. For instance, Daisy’s friend Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki) is almost completely excised, reduced from Nick’s summer girlfriend to his passing acquaintance – and that actually strengthens the story. Other minor moments and characters, such as Gatsby’s father, are either deemphasized or forgotten entirely, and that matters little, too. What does matter, unfortunately, is that Luhrmann’s pacing and editing are so erratic, especially in the first 40 minutes, that we never fully comprehend the characters. The director’s style works better here than in Romeo + Juliet, but not quite as well as in Moulin Rouge.

            See the movie for what it is: an exciting, visual celebration of love, life and longing. But to truly understand Jay Gatsby, a haunted man who knew that “falling in love would change his destiny forever,” peruse the pages of the Fitzgerald classic.

            So we beat on, boats against the current, still longing for the truly great Gatsby.

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