The first round of movie reviews have arrived for Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby — and they are decidedly mediocre. Everyone kind of saw this coming; this was Gatsby all gussied up with lavish designer costumes, 3D, and Jay-Z, after all. We now know that Luhrmann has added the framing device of Nick Carraway telling the story as an alcoholic from a sanitarium, but much of the initial shrugging remains. The consensus seems to be that translating Carraway's first-person narration is a tricky task at which Luhrmann doesn't really succeed, and that Aussie newcomer Elizabeth Debicki deserves praise as Jordan Baker. As for the rest of it, well, let's just say these one-liners won't exactly get blurbed on posters, trailers, or any marketing material whatsoever ahead of Friday's release:
"It's as if every bit of creativity dried up the moment the deal was signed." — Drew McWeeny of HitFix
"Periodically, as if by accident, something like real emotion pokes up through the film’s well-manicured surface..." — Scott Foundas of Variety.
"The picture is filled with an indiscriminate swirling motion, a thrashing impress of 'style' (Art Deco turned to digitized glitz), thrown at us with whooshing camera sweeps and surges with rapid changes of perspective exaggerated by 3-D." — David Denby of The New Yorker
"Finally this overproduced slimmest of narratives becomes repetitive, at two hours and 23 minutes, as we revisit the sumptuous set pieces, Gatsby looking longingly across the water toward Daisy's glowing green dock, and hear yet another iteration of the morphing Gatsby backstory until we finally reach Carraway's last words..." — Anne Thompson of Indiewire.
"Maguire's slightly aging boyishness has become tiresome by the film's second half and a reduction of Nick's concluding commentary would have helped." — Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter
"But for all its passionate feeling and melodrama, ‘Gatsby’ is rarely moving, and that's a major flaw for a movie that drags on for two-and-a-half hours." — Rodrigo Perez of Indiewire
"Luhrmann treats the people of color here like exotic furniture, shooting his African-Americans as though he were planning to turn them into Mammy cookie jars." — Alonso Duralde of The Wrap
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.