Having previously tackled the seductive world of competitive dance in Strictly Ballroom (1992), updated Bill Shakespeare’s most famous love story in Romeo + Juliet (1996), illuminated turn-of-the-century Paris for Moulin Rouge! (2001) and readdressed the legacy of white colonialism Down Under with Australia (2008), Aussie director Baz Luhrmann now turns his hand to a 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann’s hotly-awaited latest spectacle premières at the Cannes Film Festival this week before going on general release in UK cinemas this Thursday (16 May), with early snippets coming across from critics in the States mixed to say the very least (review to come tomorrow).
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular Gatsby, with ample support in the form of British actress Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Joel Edgerton, the calibre of actor necessary to pull of such an audacious literary adaptation is certainly there for all to see – but will Luhrmann’s over-the-top, at times gaudy aesthetics prove a good fit? Set in New York City in the spring of 1922, The Great Gatsby follows would-be writer Nick Carraway (Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest to come to New York, a city whose heart beats to the sound jazz and chinking champagne flumes.
Chasing the American Dream, Nick sets out his stall next door to enigmatic millionaire Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio), whilst also just across the bay from his cousin Daisy (Mulligan), and her volatile husband Tom Buchanan (Edgerton). Nick swiftly becomes caught up in the captivating world of the super-rich elite, with its illusions, love affairs and multiple deceits. As Nick observes this strange breed of social aristocracy, he also writes about the new world he now inhabits, penning a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy.
Luhrmann’s detractors have seemingly found much to criticise in his new endeavour, and the director is certainly taking an enormous risk by tackling such renowned and beloved source material (just how fast and loose the Australian filmmaker plays with the original narrative remains to be seen, by us at least). Yet one can’t deny that Luhrmann certainly has a taste for the decadent and outrageous – something that DiCaprio’s Gatsby would certainly approve of.
The 66th Cannes Film Festival takes place from 15-27 May, 2013. For more of our Cannes 2013 coverage, simply follow this link.