'Gatsby' good, not great
Film is more of a visual medium than it used to be. There's justifiable merit to spending screen time "dazzling" an audience. For a film such as "The Great Gatsby," which is a story that is often called unfilmable, it is certainly a necessary consideration.
The latest adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's magnum opus takes a very visual and very dynamic approach thanks to "Moulin Rouge" and "Romeo + Juliet" director Baz Luhrmann. I have always been a fan of Luhrmann, and his style is both instantly recognizable and well-suited to a story set in the glitzy '20s.
Visually, the film is a treat. Narratively, it definitely felt as if the visuals were compensating for a story that is difficult to tell, particularly in this day and age. Being a reviewer means being burdened with the responsibility, and the experience, to look at the whole picture. A restaurant can have the best atmosphere in the world, but it's a poor substitute for less-than-wonderful food. That said, "The Great Gatsby" offers a fantastic atmosphere and a pretty decent meal -- nothing extraordinary, but definitely worth trying.
Leonardo DiCaprio leads the cast as Jay Gatsby and delivers a solid performance. Playing Gatsby will be a good entry in his filmography but, in this reviewers' opinion, will not be the role that finally leads him to a long overdue win at the Academy Awards.
"The Great Gatsby" is an important piece of American literature and a decent film adaptation. I won't go so far as to say this is a must-watch entry in the summer movie lineup. However, patrons looking for a quieter outing definitely will have slim pickings during the next few months, and "The Great Gatsby" is a good option -- it's a bright Fourth of July party with less-than-enthralling conversation.
James Gerstner works at the Fort Hays State University Foundation and is the founder and editor of Six Horizons Media at sixhorizons.com. Contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org, @sixhorizons on Twitter, Facebook.com/sixhorizons.