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What the critics are saying: ‘The Great Gatsby’

Leonardo DiCaprio, pictured in The Great Gatsby, called Wednesday a "historic day.". Handout

TORONTO — It’s got big stars (Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan), a big-name director (Baz Luhrmann), a big soundtrack (Jay-Z, Beyonce) and big sets — but is The Great Gatsby going to do big business at the box office?

The 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel — the sixth to hit the big screen — is now playing in theatres, taking on last weekend’s box office champ Iron Man 3.

What are the critics saying?

Keith Phipps of NPR described The Great Gatsby as “an unapologetically garish riot of color and costumery parading before a restless camera.”

He added: “The material never gets a moment to breathe. For all the filmmaking skill on display, this Great Gatsby often feels more like a conceptual exercise than a thought-through take on the material.

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Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan took issue with the film’s “overblown characterizations and stitled line readings” and complained that Luhrmann and his team “pile on the spectacle and the glitter until we are gasping for air.”

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said Luhrmann’s adaptation will cause the author to turn in his grave.

“Aside from the staggering beauty of Catherine Martin’s costumes, nothing works. The actors are buried in the art direction, along with feeling. The film looks as stiff and lifeless as a posh store window,” Travers opined.

“There may be worse movies this summer than The Great Gatsby, but there won’t be a more crushing disappointment.”

Businessweek editor Emma Rosenblum also singled out Martin’s costumes but called the 3D effects “vaguely nauseating” and said some flashback scenes looked “cheap and corny.”

“Even for Luhrmann, who specializes in spectacle, Gatsby feels like a carnival,” Rosenblum wrote. “In the end, I came away with the distinct urge to purchase a Twenties-inspired Prada dress. Speaking for Fitzgerald (everyone else is), I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his point.”

In Variety, Scott Foundas described The Great Gatsby as “the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as staged by Liberace.”

Foundas said there’s no question the film was directed by the man who made the splashy Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. “Love it or hate it, take it or leave it, this is unmistakably his Gatsby through and through, and as with all such carte-blanche extravaganzas, it exudes an undeniable fascination — at least for a while.”

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