Imagine the thrill of the roaring 1920s with the craziest of parties, rooms lit up by brightly coloured dresses and dazzling diamonds glinting as the flapper girls perform their Charlestons. Baz Luhrmann no longer leaves this to the imagination as he brings a fresh new adaption of the much-loved American classic, The Great Gatsby, back to our screens.
F.Scott Fitzgerald’s compelling novel tells the story of a mysterious millionaire who holds extravagant, decadent parties for guests who have never met but only heard of, the Great Gatsby. The parties are a ploy to lure his lost love Daisy Buchanan back to him. The tale unravels through the narration of Nick Carraway, a Yale student from the Midwest who becomes neighbours with the notorious millionaire and by sheer coincidence is Mrs. Buchanan’s cousin.
For decades Robert Redford has filled Gatsby’s shoes but now Leonardo DiCaprio gives his version of the mystery that is Jay Gatsby. DiCaprio shows yet again why he is a great actor as he is able to keep the audience absorbed in his performance even while Luhrmann creates a vulgar backdrop that could have easily distracted your eyes. DiCaprio’s scenes with his leading lady Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy Buchanan, are the only reason this film hasn’t been completely drowned in Baz Luhrmann’s wild vision and retain a sense of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. The scenes they share are so intense and yet delicately acted that they’re exactly what you would imagine Jay and Daisy to be like whilst reading the novel.
Carey Mulligan brings a sweetness and vulnerability to her character which is contrasted with her drunken, cheating husband Tom Buchanan, played by the perfectly cast Joel Edgerton and his mistress Myrtle Wilson played by the gorgeous Isla Fisher whose beauty is hidden by the hideous wardrobe chosen for her.
Tobey Maguire plays the narrator Nick Carraway, who tells the story through flashbacks whilst being prompted by his therapist, who is treating him for depression and alcoholism. I can see why Tobey Maguire was chosen for this part, both the actor and the character are tiresome and insider-outsiders of their professions.
Baz Luhrmann is known for his choice of music with previous projects with Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet both having distinguishable soundtracks. However, it completely boggled my mind to be watching a film set in the 1920s whilst listening to the voices of Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyonce booming out their R&B classics. Some people may see this is a slick, modern twist but I think it is ludicrous and turned what is meant to be a slick classic into a brassy, indelicate version that fills all of Baz Luhrmann’s wants whereas I don’t think it is what F.Scott Fitzgerald imagined whilst writing his novel.
If the words ‘Great’ Gatsby is what you’re anticipating then you will be sorely disappointed, but if you want 143 minutes of an over-the-top depiction of a masterpiece and to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s face in 3D then this film is for you.