The Great Gatsby review
Luhrmann captures Fitzgerald’s novel & the Roarin’ 20s, Old Sport
Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of what is perhaps the greatest American novel is a reminder that some books are destined to become movies. The director of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge assembles a perfect cast — each actor/ actress becoming his or her respective role on screen. Luhrmann’s glamorous and flashy filmmaking style with a 3D addition lends itself excellently to a story taking place at the height of the Roarin’ 20s among the old money of New York City and their lavish, expensive parties. Although the film seems to enjoy reveling in its own style when it goes on a bit too long to get through a party montage or developing the character of the mysterious Jay Gatsby, it is an entirely immersive and enjoyable film if you’re a patient, cinema-lover. I certainly recommend spending the extra two dollars for a 3D ticket.
Luhrmann couldn’t have assembled two better leads. Tobey Maguire (Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Sea Biscuit)plays our protagonist, Nick Carroway. Maguire captures the relatable spirit of the Midwestern-born, Great War veteran Wall Street bond trader. Maguire plays a kind, gentle moral compass for the film; there’s a certain sense of who is good and who is not based on how he interacts with other characters in conjunction with his fluid narration. The film’s titular lead, Jay Gatsby, is a case of perfect casting as Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Django Unchained) has a public perception not unlike his character’s — a wealthy, talented, seemingly-extraordinary, single man whose personal life seems rather mysterious despite constant tabloid attention. DiCaprio once again steals the picture, but unfortunately, he doesn’t show up until the first plot point of the script.
The supporting cast rounds out nicely. Carey Mulligan (Drive, An Education) plays the apple of Gatsby’s eye, Daisy Buchanon. Mulligan hits the right chord of hopelessly in love yet despicably selfish. Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Animal Kingdom) takes villain duties as Daisy’s husband with a jealous, cheatin’ heart and no real employment despite inheriting old family money. Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, Hot Rod) is Edgerton’s mistress and Jason Clarke’s (Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty) wife.
Luhrmann’s epic, romantic style of filmmaking is a perfect marriage with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of New York City one-percenters in a post-World War I America. The visual addition of 3D pops in perfection conjunction with executive producer Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s soundtrack. A few early reviews criticized the length and performances of the film, but the director honestly pays perfect homage to the romance, decadence, glamour and tragedy of its legendary source material. The Great Gatsby is a real treat — a nice change-up in a month full of blockbuster sequels: a comic book movie (Iron Man 3), a sci-fi epic (Star Trek Into Darkness) and the comedy threequel that nobody requested (The Hangover, Part III).