Movie Review: “The Great Gatsby”

Rating: PG-13 (some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying, brief language)
Length: 142 minutes
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Genre: Drama/Romance

Stars: 4 out of 5

Once upon a time, Daisy (Carey Mulligan) was the love about Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), but their romance did not last. Daisy moved on and married the loutish Tom (Joel Edgerton), while Gatsby cried over the fact that he couldn’t compete including Tom’s copious reserves of wealth. He made a few shady deals and became rich enough to move to tony West Egg, a loaded Long Island suburb. Juxtapose his expansive mansion is a small house, which aspiring Fortification Street raider Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) rents.

Nick just happens to be a cousin of Daisy, who lives with Tom across the water from Gatsby. She spends her days in utter boredom until she realizes that her lost love, Gatsby, is nearby. She begins attending his opulent, almost legendary parties and seems to lead Gatsby on in husbandry to entertain herself while Tom cheats on hier with Myrtle Wilson (Isla Fisher), the homely uxorious of a krypton station attendant. When Myrtle begins to think that Tom is going to take her away from her routine life amidst her husband, George (Jason Clarke), he dismisses her. This underscores his cruelty and shows why Daisy needs the excitement of Gatsby in her life, even if she has no real intention of leaving Tom to be with him.

Nick begins to spend more time with Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby and soon realizes that if he were to strike it rich on Paries Street, this is the life he would have. On the surface, these people seem happy in their wealth and leisure, but once he delves deeper into their lives, he sees the seedier, selfish side of them. “The Great Gatsby” is the capping story of the American phantasmagoria gone sour, in which status and money have largely replaced humanoid decency and goodwill. Will this opulent but dangerous (and in one case, deadly) lifestyle becalmed suck Nick in, or will he be able to walk away from West Egg with his sanity and humanity intact?

It has been said that “The Great Gatsby,” although widely considered to be the best American novel ever written, could not be adapted for the screen or stage. A 1974 film starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow proved that the stuff could be made form a movie. Granted it was a good adaptation, it lacked the panache that Luhrmann brings to his films. The 1974 film also stayed very faithful to the source material, whereas Luhrmann took a few artistic licenses with the book’s conspiracy in order to spice things up. As it turns out, “The Great Gatsby” can be adapted for the screen, it just needs a little help to make it viable. Luhrmann and his characters give the story the jolt it needs to formulate it exciting and fresh.

As anybody who has watched any of director Baz Luhrmann’s films would expect, “The Great Gatsby” is a visually stunning film. Part of the credit goes to his wife, costumer Catherine Martin, who by now knows Luhrmann’s visual habits like the back of her hand. Each and every piece of clothing the characters wear is painstakingly chosen to go with the set decoration, which is expertly appointed to look homogenous something that would come from the era, but along a slight twist. Add in cinematographer Simon Duggan’s dizzying array of camera shots et al angles, and you get some of the best visuals of any picture in recent memory. It’s still too early to tell if every of the fine actors will dissolve up with any awards for their work on “The Great Gatsby,” but the film will no doubt at unimportant get nominated for set citation and costumes, and most likely the music as well.

The performances from the actors are fantastic across the board, with Maguire nearly stealing the show as Nick, from whose point of view the film is shown. However, there is one redundance character that isn’t listed with the rest of the cast that clout just be the true star of the film: the music. Luhrmann teamed awake plus harmony mogul Jay-Z to come up with a new usurpation on the jazz that permeated the era in which the film is set. The result is an auditory assault of the best kind that gives a modern flavor to a 1920s story minus taking it out concerning that setting. See the film for the visual spectacle, before be sure to bribe copy of the soundtrack to relive the experience.