Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby has been a long time coming. Initially planned for a Christmas 2012 release, the flashy adaptation of F. Scott's Fitzgerald's most popular novel got bumped to the summer of 2013. Following a string of glitzy posters, and jazzy trailers, it has finally come to theaters. And the response from critics is decidedly mixed.
The film has an unimpressive 45% score on Rotten Tomatoes as we post this, with some critics calling it "a failure" and others proclaiming it "a grand love story." Here at Cinema Blend, we were divided too. Katey enjoyed the movie enough to give it three stars in her review, and Sean praised in particular Leonardo DiCaprio's turn as the mysterious Mr. Gatsby. Kristy on the other hand openly admits to hating the movie, declaring DiCaprio miscast and determining this Gatsby should be known as "Glitterbomb: The Movie."
Stunned by their deeply contrary opinions, Kristy and Sean entered our Great Debate arena to hash out how they came to such different conclusions over DiCaprio's Gatsby. Be warned, the following discusses many plot points of The Great Gatsby. So, SPOILERS AHEAD, old sport.
Sean: Kristy, I was a little surprised by how varied our opinions were when it comes to The Great Gatsby. Not that we aren't allowed to have differing opinions ... particularly about a project that's ending up being as divisive as Luhrmann's Gatsby adaptation ends up being. But I'm shocked that you don't agree Leonardo DiCaprio is/was perfectly cast as J. Gatsby. To me, he's the main reason why the film works as well as it does.
Kristy: Yeah, he's the main reason I think it doesn't work. I was shocked you liked him. Personally, I thought he was totally miscast and made a fool out of one of my favorite literary figures. I'm curious what worked for you about his performance.
Sean: In short, everything. But I'll try to elaborate. First, I think that you need an actor of DiCaprio's "celebrity" to instantly sell that mystique Gatsby brings to the opening of the story. This is supposed to be one of the most revered, awe-inspiring, mysterious men of the time. No offense to excellent character actors like, say, Sam Rockwell or Paul Giamatti, but they wouldn't fit the bill in a way DiCaprio automatically does just by showing up.
And I feared that's all he was going to do. Show up. But when we arrived at the scene where Gatsby was going to meet Daisy for the first time, I thought DiCaprio did an outstanding job of slowly, gradually and even painfully allowing Gatsby's insecurities to creep forward. The showiness of the visual set up of decorating the cottage was classic. His attempts to pose while waiting for her ... then running and hiding in the rain. All of those decisions were smart in showing us how uncomfortable Gatsby is/was in his own skin, and I thought Leo handled that well.
The scene, also, where Gatsby is draping Daisy with his wealth ... throwing the shirts down on her ... that struck me as very odd in the trailer. But I thought it played VERY well in the feature. Here is a man who lost this woman because he was penniless. Now that she's back in his life, if even for a moment, he's going to convince her to stay by showing her -- in an extravagant and obnoxious manner -- how wealthy he has become. I found it heartbreaking.