|Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby|
Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby bears little resemblance to the slender masterpiece on which it is based – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s now iconic 1925 novel – but that probably won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has followed this director’s career. While his critics see him as a sort of Andrew Lloyd Webber of movies whose histrionic period pieces (Moulin Rouge!, Romeo + Juliet) put one in mind, to borrow a phrase from Pauline Kael, of “a dog with the broken bones of a cat sticking out,” few of Luhrmann’s fans would likely contest that characterization. To them, Luhrmann’s movies are carnival sensations, romances to excess that celebrate the hysterical pace of the modern age in brazen, trashy style (and anyone who doesn’t like their cats grafted messily onto dogs is just a purist, patrician snob). There’s a faint odor of schoolyard allegiance that clings to the debate around Baz Luhrmann, and it never fails to make me feel like the teenager who chooses to stay home with a book while all her friends go out to a rave.