Luhrmann's “Gatsby” stands in stark contrast to the last effort to film the novel — director Jack Clayton's 1974 version, a prim and decorous period piece that had Robert Redford as Gatsby, Sam Waterston as Nick and Mia Farrow as Daisy. Employing occasionally effective but largely unnecessary 3-D effects and interspersing riffs of hip-hop and contemporary music into the period score, Luhrmann's version is anything but period prim. It's throbbing with energy and a jumpy, off-kilter vibe that aptly echoes the youthful impatience and yearning of the Jazz Age.
While literary purists might balk at Luhrmann's poetic liberties and his ringmaster style, his flamboyant film makes a strong case for the durability and timelessness of Fitzgerald's classic. Even tarted up in the most garish of cinema finery, “The Great Gatsby” retains its essential dignity through all the frenzy.
— Dennis King