“The Great Gatsby” to kick off Cannes Film Festival, but will it be any good?

March 12, 2013

It was announced on Tuesday that this year’s Cannes Film Festival would kick off with Baz Luhrmann’s much-buzzed-about adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.” The AP reports:

Organizers said Tuesday the film “The Great Gatsby,” with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role and directed by Australian Baz Luhrmann, will open this year’s Cannes festival — in 3-D, no less.

Luhrmann stressed the film’s French connection, saying in a statement that author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “some of the most poignant and beautiful passages” of “The Great Gatsby” at a French Riviera villa not far from Cannes. Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan also star in Luhrmann’s version of the 1925 novel.

We asked The Post’s film critic, Ann Hornaday, a few questions about the upcoming would-be blockbuster and this year’s edition of Cannes.


Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in ‘The Great Gatsby.” (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

What are your expectations for “Gatsby”? Lots of people seem to have strong opinions on both sides months before the thing is even out.

I have to say, my expectations for a “Great Gatsby” movie are modest-to-abysmal. I fear that an adaptation will simply reduce it to its plot and visual motifs, completely erasing Fitzgerald’s genius, artistry and subtlety. Although I think DiCaprio and Mulligan are good choices to play Gatsby and Daisy, I’ve never been a big Tobey Maguire fan. This just has “shallow” written all over it.

You described Baz Luhrmann’s last film, “Australia,” as “windy, overblown, utterly preposterous and insanely entertaining.” Do you think he was a good choice to direct “Gatsby”?

I didn’t love “Australia,” but I was a huge fan of “Moulin Rouge!” But I don’t think Luhrmann is the best choice to direct “Gatsby.” See “shallow” reference above. I think he favors spectacle over depth and that’s a shame where this particular piece of literature is concerned.

You are generally not a fan of 3-D. “Gatsby” isn’t a computer-animated or big action film, like most 3-D movies – does that bode well or even worse?

I’m indeed not a huge fan of 3-D, although “Life of Pi,” “Hugo” and “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” have helped me realize that it’s not always a negative. Still, I have yet to think that 3-D adds enough in visual value to justify what it takes away in luminosity, detail and comfort. I don’t understand why Luhrmann deems 3-D essential to the meaning of “Gatsby,” but I am keeping an open mind!


Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures )

As someone who regularly attends the Cannes Film Festival, what do you think of a big budget Hollywood film serving as the festival opener?

I think it hews to the big, showy, star-studded tradition of the Cannes red carpet. But

what’s even more interesting is that “Gatsby” will already have opened in the U.S. when it arrives in Cannes. So rather than a “Hollywood-in-France” event, Cannes opening night is very much geared toward Europe and international markets – which of course have increased in importance in recent years, not just vis-à-vis box office, but also financing and production.

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Elizabeth Chang | March 12, 2013