Commentary on news, politics, sports, religion, TV and movies
Tom Tangney

Dream of 'The Great Gatsby' proved unattainable for Baz Luhrman

Leonardo DiCaprio stars in "The Great Gatsby," but it's director Baz Luhrman who's the real star, for better or worse.

This Great Gatsby is far from perfect. In fact, it's a mess. It may spring entirely from director Baz Luhrman's imagination but like Gatsby himself he makes a mess of everything.

Luhrman throws everything he can at this dream project - opulent costumes, grand set designs, inspired pop music, CGI special effects, even 3-D. Why F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic needs 3-D is beyond me, but it's worse than unnecessary. It's disorienting and distracting, especially in the first half of the film, when Luhrman establishes the manic world of the Roaring 20's but fails to ground any of the main characters in it.

I fault none of the actors. They don't make much of an impression because they're swallowed up by the director's grandiose vision.

The film finds its footing in the second half, when the underlying tension between Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom finally surfaces but by then it's too late.

Luhrman's film is not without its pleasures: DiCaprio's first appearance as Gatsby accompanied by fireworks and the strains of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," the eerie billboard eyes of Dr. Eckleburg, the idiosyncratic and anachronistic soundtrack, especially Lana Del Rey, and the artful use of the famous final lines of the novel visible on the screen.

But overall, it feels like a major missed opportunity. Just as Gatsby wants Daisy too much for his own good, my hunch is Baz Luhrman wanted "The Great Gatsby" too much to make it work. Gatsby's dream proved unattainable - so too did Baz Lurhman's.

You might also like:

Is Thursday the new Opening Day?
Johnny Depp could be at his creepiest yet in next role for 'Into the Woods'

Tom Tangney, KIRO Radio Host, Film & Media Critic
Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Tom on KIRO Radio
Join Tom Tangney and the rest of the radio crew every day KIRO Radio.

About Tom Tangney
By day, you can hear Tom on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, and by night, he sits in the dark, making snide comments about what he sees on the silver screen.

In the community
Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.