Cannes: Standing O? No. 'Great Gatsby' Opens Fest to Lukewarm Applause

 

Baz Luhrmann’s razzmatazz The Great Gatsby opened the 66th Cannes Film Festival Wednesday night, where the film was billed as Gatsby le Magnifique.
 
But the response from the bejeweled, black-tie audience didn’t quite live up to all those superlatives -- whether in French or English. In fact, instead of a de riguer standing ovation, the 3D movie’s conclusion was met with polite but muted applause.

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The reaction wasn’t as downbeat as the collective Gallic shrug that greeted Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code (which elicited some actual boos) when it kicked off the fest in 2006, but it was definitely cooler than the warmer embraces that recent openers like Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom received last year and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris got the year before that. 

"The reaction was soft, but far from the worst, like what The Da Vinci Code got," observed one industry figure in the audience. "I liked the film, and I get why the festival thought it was a good idea -- it's got big stars and is very cinematic."

The Gatsby reception was much chillier than the stellar reaction Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! received when it had its world premiere as the opening night film, competing for the Palme d'Or, at the 2001 festival. The decadent musical starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman was met with a rousing standing ovation and big post-premiere buzz.

The drumbeat of rain, which arrived just as the red carpet got underway, might have put something of a damper on the evening. Luhrmann, along with his starry cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Amitabh Bachchan braved the paparazzi, which also attracted celebrities as disparate as Cindy Crawford and David Hasselhoff.

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And as the opening ceremonies got underway, the crowd still had enough energy to give a protracted standing ovation to Steven Spielberg, who heads this year’s jury and was introduced with a clip reel of his career highlights. Spielberg’s response to the warm bath of appreciation: “Mon dieu!”
 
DiCaprio and Bachchan did the honors of declaring the festival officially open.
 
But Gatsby, which drew a mixed critical response in the United States, appears to be encountering similar reactions from the French media. Proclaimed Le Monde, “It’s as if Luc Besson adapted Proust.”

 

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