“Don’t believe the hate,” says Marshall Fine about the critically-pummelled The Great Gatsby. “It’s not a terrible film; indeed, it’s a surprisingly affecting one. And I’m no Luhrmann apologist. I’m one of those who thought Moulin Rouge was silly and overrated. As for his indigestible Australia from 2008, well, at least the continent itself survived.
“Yet I found myself pulled into the emotional world of Luhrmann’s Gatsby despite only a couple of really outstanding performances and an in-your-face phoniness to the imagery which the film wears as a badge of honor. In translating F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about the 1920s, Luhrmann turns it into an indictment of conspicuous consumption and the erosion of the human spirit that inevitably results.
“In spite of the trappings of 3D and a Jay-Z-infused soundtrack, Luhrmann finds the beating heart at the center of this overstuffed enterprise. It rests firmly in the person of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby, who single-handedly breathes life into a film that is nearly sunk by the glum Carey Mulligan and the lightweight Tobey Maguire.
“DiCaprio’s Gatsby is still an untrustworthy weasel with delusions of grandeur and a willingness to do almost anything to get what he wants — but his collapse, when that ruthlessness proves his undoing, is that much more moving because of the heft DiCaprio brings to the role. See it for DiCaprio and you won’t be sorry.”