Leonardo DiCaprio Praised as Great Gatsby gets Mixed Reviews


Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Toby Maguire have been praised for their performances in Baz Luhrmann’s 3D version of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classis book The Great Gatsby. Unfortunately the critics appear to be mixed in their reactions.

Historically The Great Gatsby has been a bit of an odd fish. When the book was released, it did poorly with the reading public, despite mostly positive reviews from critics. It only sold 20,000 copies the first year it was in print. It was felt that the poor sales had much to do with the main character being fabulously rich. Published in 1925, it did not start becoming popular until it became part of High School required reading during WWII.

Hollywood has actually adapted the book for the screen no less than five times, although one of those adaptations was for television, and all have received mixed reactions from critics. The 1974 version with Robert Redford, Sam Waterston, and Mia Farrow was the most popular with the viewing public raking in a staggering box office of over $26 million.

Despite the high praise given to the main protagonists of Luhrmann’s version, the decision to make the film in 3D has surprised and dismayed quite a few critics. The use of narrator Maguire’s words, that are passages from the book, showing up on the screen and then falling apart to flutter down the screen has been called a distraction and annoying.

The negative reviews have pointed out that the overblown and spectacular sets have diminished the true heart of the film leaving it looking like an empty spectacle with no real meaning. Positive reviews have maintained that the film is “a lot of fun” and “less a conventional movie adaptation than a splashy, trashy opera, a wayward, lavishly theatrical celebration of the emotional and material extravagance.”

So far the film’s trailer has already been nominated for two awards, Best Romance and Best Music from the Golden Trailer Awards. With the 1974 Robert Redford version winning a grand total of six awards (Two Oscars, Three BAFTAs and One Golden Globe) and a further three nominations, it will be interesting to see how many gongs the actual film will get.

Whatever else can be said about the film, its marketing has been intense with a Brook Brothers clothing line released called, appropriately enough, “The Gatsby Collection.” A line of men’s clothing, shoes and accessories “inspired by the costumes designed by Catherine Martin for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby”. “The looks,” according to Fashion Weekly, “weren’t simply based on 1920s style: the new duds were designed based on the brand’s actual archives. The actual costumes, designed by Catherine Martin, will be on display in select Brooks Brothers boutiques.”

Jewellers Tiffany & Co premiered “The Great Gatsby Collection” line of jewelry designed in anticipation of the film. The collection comprises 7 pieces: a brooche, a headpiece, (both reportedly based on archival Tiffany designs) a necklace, and four different rings; including one in platinum with a 5.25-carat diamond, priced at $875,000.

It will be interesting to see how the film fares at the box office compared with the 1974 Gatsby that proved so popular with the public.

By Michael Smith

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