One of the heaviest offenses in this movie is the direction he takes for the narration. While the narrator in the novel is sorting through his memories, making the words seem natural and organic...the narration in the movie is dull, unnecessary, and cheesy. The narration is supposedly through the words of the protagonist who is writing them out -- making what once were beautiful words seem cheap and a contrivance. This doesn't help by the fact that Luhrmann constantly has the words physically written out on the screen, or he has moments where Tobey Maguire, the main character, pause and rearrange words to his liking. And he's often so distraught, you can't help but think he looks just like Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge as he sobs over his typewriter while recollecting his tragic past.
Just to prove that he was awake during his high school English class, Luhrmann can't seem to stand the idea that we might miss a thematic idea. He has to hit us over the head with it repeatedly to make sure his dull-witted audience gets it. At one point, he has a shooting star flash across the sky when Gatsby talks about his destiny. Really? Really, Luhrmann? And it seems like he sifted through to find the most obvious tropes to go with the time period. Every single character is introduced with an overly-staged entrance, right down to using the climax of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for Gatsby's key entrance. Since he seems to run out of the obvious roaring 20's music cliches, he then turns to infuse some modern music in there. And as fun as it is to hear Jay-Z rap while flappers dance across the screen, by the third installment of this combination, you begin to wonder if the rapper paid the director in some way to get endorsed so much.
Unfortunately, most of the other actors left me wanting more...which might not be the best way to put it. Most of them gave too much, and I wanted less. Carey Mulligan's Daisy has a tough job to handle -- what with practically all of her lines already in the minds and ears of those that have dressed her up in their own sort of Gatsby dreams. I'm sorry to say that she didn't do it for me.
All in all, Luhrmann's interpretation of The Great Gatsby is exactly what Gatsby's life was -- flashy, hopeful, but mostly empty.