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Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby

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Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of Fitzgerald's classic novel has resisted description for almost three weeks. I enjoyed it, but I have found myself reluctant to write about it.  Part of my reluctance stems from writing a review of the novel so recently.  But a larger reluctance manifests from the simple fact that the film almost defies description.

Luhrmann loves to explore the genre of film, to make sly winks at the audience.  His breaking of the fourth wall is not so obvious as directing his characters to look directly into the camera, but rather to adapt whatever history he has decided to tackle and adopt it to the date of the film's release.  In this, Luhrmann's Gatsby follows in the mold that he created with Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet.  Gatsby, like those two films, is a movie that is simultaneously of its age, but also is ruthless about adapting the story to the age of its release whenever Luhrmann deems it necessary.  This tactic occasionally turns out for the worse, but at least in Gatsby's case, it's usually for the better.

Unfortunately, this savviness makes the movie unusually resistant to film criticism, or at least the brand of film criticism that I attempt in this blog.  After all, Luhrmann brings about an intention to his films, a thoroughness that really does make it seem that every little piece has been meticulously crafted.  My favorite film criticism points out assumptions and takes a wider lens, and when Luhrmann's film already points out all of his assumptions, it becomes redundant for me to write anything.

However, I do endeavor to also provide my opinion, and that was favorable for this movie.  The music I found sometimes jarring, as it felt like an intrusion into an otherwise admirably cohesive 1920s setting.  However, the visual style, the acting, and the writing is all quite good.

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