Baz Luhrmann adds a youthful twist to the novel
Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby opened the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, with critics divided on whether it amounts to an inspired take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic or a cinematic flop.
Luhrmann's Gatsby adaptation targets a younger generation who have never seen the 1974 version, which starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in the leading roles of the Jazz Age tale.
Three-dimensional effects and a score produced by rapper Jay-Z and tracks from Beyonce and Will.i.am provide the core of Luhrmann's eye-catching, youth-friendly pitch.
It gets its European premiere in Cannes after opening in North America last week.
The New York Times described it as "eminently enjoyable" and film website Indiewire hailed a "guilty pleasure, a swirling audacious piece of cinema".
But others panned the film as superficial and brash.
"Once his (Luhrmann's) agenda of swooping camera movements and gleaming roadsters and anachronistic music takes full hold, there's nothing left to fall back on...," said The Wrap.
"The Great Gatsby is an immortal American tragedy, but the story's impact gets completely buried in Luhrmann's flash and dazzle," it added.
Rolling Stone was even more blunt calling the $100 million movie a "crushing disappointment".
Aside from the "staggering beauty of the costumes, nothing works. The actors are buried in the art direction, along with feeling," it said.
"The film looks as stiff and lifeless as a posh store window."
Despite the doubts, Gatsby took $51.1 million at the weekend's US box office, reportedly exceeding distributor Warner Brothers' expectations of between $35 million and $40 million.
The film, which is not in competition at Cannes, came in second behind the blockbuster Iron Man 3.
Figures showed the film had proved popular with older audiences too.
Viewers over 25 made up 69 percent of the opening weekend's audience, according to Warner Bros.