THE GREAT GATSBY
Baz Luhrmann returns to direct his first feature film since “Australia” in 2008. This his is adaption of the popular novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as “Jay Gatsby”. Leo is supported by an amazing cast. Including the likes of Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Isla Fisher and many more.
The story is about a midwest war veteran “Nick Carraway” played by Tobey Maguire. After returning home from the war, Nick develops a fascination with his neighbour Jay Gatsby who is a very wealthy and respected man. The film is wonderfully narrated by Tobey Maguire as he recalls his past experiences with Gatsby and the people closest to him. We get a fantastic introduction to New York City in the 40’s and Nick’s first meeting with Tom and Daisy Buchanan (played by Joel Edgerton and Carey Mulligan). Tom and Daisy have a very dysfunctional relationship. Tom is having an affair and thinks that Daisy doesn’t know. Nick finds out that Gatsby lives across the lake from the Buchanan’s. He then develops a keen interest in meeting the man whom the whole town is talking about.
Nick gets the opportunity when he is invited by Tom and Daisy and several others, to attend one of Jay’s huge house parties. While at the party he finally has the opportunity to meet Jay and the two quickly develop a friendship. The story is very simple but very effective. It depicts appearances and stereotypes of wealth and fame and the effect that gossip can have on people’s perceptions. In this case everybody has their own story about who Jay Gatsby really is. At its core this is a film about a very lonely man. Jay Gatsby appears to have the world at his fingertips and everyone in his back pocket. This is not the case, everyone in Jay’s life has a motive to be a part of it all. These motives vary from the money to his connections and ultimately to the lifestyle he leads.
Moreover, this shows the importance of the friendship Nick and Jay form. Jay comes to understand that Nick doesn’t want anything in return for Jay’s friendship. He has no ulterior motives, he just wants to understand how Jay thinks and feels. This is the key to the movie’s success, the bond these two have transcends anything else you see in the film.
This movie has the most unbelievable look to it. This look comes around once every few years, if you’re lucky. The colours are absolutely stunning, visually you can’t help but immerse yourself in this world of 1940’s yuppie America (or New York). I had to pinch myself before I left the cinema to remind me that I wasn’t going to step out into the 40’s. I haven’t ever had that reaction or feeling after a movie-going experience. The soundtrack is amazingly well put together. You wouldn’t think modern songs from an artist like Jay-z would work well in a film like this but it really does. We also have some wonderful period piece music. Jazz and Blues orientated songs in the bars and clubs.
The wardrobe is another thing that is so authentic and adds to the overall experience of the film. Everybody, down to the individual extra’s have been made up with the perfect look. The attention to detail in the aesthetic look in each frame is like nothing I have seen before. I mean every last aspect. The flowers, the furniture and set pieces, the cutlery, the gates, the gardens, the curtains and much more. The vehicles of the time also look in mint condition. Wonderful scenes driving through Manhattan, I didn’t know where to look with so much to see. Although a lot of the film was done in the studio and digitally enhanced with full CGI backgrounds, I never thought once that it was a facade. You immerse yourself to the fullest in the world that’s been created because you can’t help it. It’s that engaging.
With a running time of 143 minutes you would think this could be way to long. I disagree. You won’t find yourself looking at your watch thinking is this going to be over soon? It moves at a solid pace, there is plenty of character background and plot development. The industrial scenes look fantastic and we get some great scenes with some of Australia’s best upcoming actors and actresses. The camera work is so smooth and crisp and even when there are some steady cam shots they are blended with absolute professionalism. The acting from the entire cast is wonderful. I have been a huge fan of Carey Mulligan since Drive, she blew me away again with this performance. Edgerton puts in an anger and frustration fueled performance that I really enjoyed.
However it is both Tobey and Leonardo who have the best chemistry and the best overall performances. I have newfound respect for Tobey, he does a wonderful job of the narration and playing his part of the curious neighbour. Leonardo Dicaprio just continues to evolve and get better with each performance. His role as Calvin Candie in “Django Unchained” along with his take on Jay Gatsby are both mind-blowing. He ranges every emotion while never losing control of who the character really is. Once again proving he is the best in the business.
Other then the opening lunch scene at The Buchanan’s house being shot a little rapidly with some indistinct and choppy dialogue, I can’t say a single bad thing about this film. Honestly its an absolute masterpiece and a lesson in film making. The acting, the atmosphere and the aesthetic look of the film are flawless. Baz you have finally done it. You have given this popular piece of literature a life of its own. You may have even convinced me to read the book! I can say with absolute confidence, you will not see a better film of this epic proportion for many years to come!
My rating for “The Great Gatsby” is 9.5/10
I really didn’t know what to expect when I watched this movie, but I can tell you I was at least pleased with the outcome. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire both did good performances as well. While the film provides an interesting look at the height of the “Roaring Twenties” and a devastating look into the dark side of the American dream, it’s running time of nearly 21/2 hours and a near-constant bombardment of visual over-stimulation might make the film somewhat exhausting for some. Every bit as visually dazzling as one might expect with it’s production, grand sets, scenery, and detailed costume designs. I personally feel that while this film doesn’t necessarily belongs to the category of overblown, over-elaborate movies out there, it could have benefited from having a less dazzling tone. All that aside, the plot was good and I felt sad at the end for Gatsby. Whether or not the film is a satisfactory adaptation of the novel I can’t say because I haven’t read the book.