The 1922 classic novel “The Great Gatsby” was given a new breath of life by dramatic, visionary director Baz Luhrmann. “The Great Gatsby” follows Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he befriends his next-door neighbor, billionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo Dicaprio) and assists him in winning the affections of his romantic obsession, the illustrious Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Also thrown in the mix are Daisy’s blue-blooded, philandering husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), his mistress Myrtle Wilson (Isla Fisher) and golfing sensation Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debiki).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the newest blockbuster is ranked at 46 percent. If you’ve been dazzled by the promotional material, with trailers featuring Jay-Z hits and superfluous glitz and glam, you may be wondering why the film fell short of its mark.
The “Roaring 20s” were amplified by the ambitious set design, brilliant costumes, and overall filmmaking splendor. An hour into the movie, I wondered if I had paid to see rampant parties for two and a half hours. Jay-Z’s contributions to the soundtrack seemed wildly out of place to represent the 1920s. I was completely fine with hearing “No Church in the Wild” in “The Great Gatsby” theatrical trailer; I thought it was a great way to bring new interest to an old story. The jazzy tunes that were mixed in with the contemporary beats sounded awesome, but I found characters dancing the “Charleston” to rap sequences unappealing. It just felt unnatural.
I had a lot of uncertainties in the first half of the film, which was abundant with verbatim quoting, which seemed to be the only effort to appease the loyal fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s rich prose in the classic novel. Maguire’s portrayal of Nick Carraway also fell flat for me, which made the first hour of voiced over narration a bit annoying to be forced to listening to. Fortunately, my opinion of the movie drastically improved as I saw Gatsby and Daisy’s affair come to life along with the tragic chaos that comes of it.
The true heart of this film lies in Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Gatsby, capturing Jay’s enigmatic presence and mysterious luster. We are greeted with “Rhapsody in Blue” upon the first arrival of Gatsby, fireworks exploding in celebration of meeting the title character. DiCaprio establishes his identity as Gatsby by charismatically calling his surrounding company “Old Sport.” His passion for Daisy and his efforts to win her affections romances the audience in Gatsby’s favor. Where Carraway’s enamor and admiration for Gatsby is unconvincing, Dicaprio’s portrayal reminds us why Jay Gatsby is the tragically hopeful model of the American dream. Criticisms standing, Luhrmann put everything he had into this adaption of “The Great Gatsby.” Fans of Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!” have another tragic love story to drool over. Every second of this film is stitched with 1920s flair and finesse.
Criticisms standing, Luhrmann put everything he had into this adaption of “The Great Gatsby.” Fans of Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge!” have another tragic love story to drool over. Every second of this film is stitched with 1920s flair and finesse.