The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby
"The Great Gatsby" follows would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super-rich, their illusions, loves, and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

Review

Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the F.Scott Fitzgerald novel is visually appealing, but the A-list cast and crew fall short of turning the classic book into a classic film.

Baz Luhrmann is no newbie when it comes to directing highly stylized films ('Moulin Rouge!') or adapting classic literature for the big screen ('Romeo + Juliet'), so it's really not a shocker that the Aussie decided to take a stab at adapting a classic work of American fiction after listening to the book on tape during a trans-Siberian train ride. 'The Great Gatsby' follows the lives of aspiring writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), her philandering husband Tom (Joel Edgerton), and Nick's mysterious millionaire neighbour Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) during a summer of partying, infidelity, and excess on New York's Long Island. The other 'main character' of the story is the time period of the Roaring '20s; jazz, bootlegging, loose morals, and a bull market making new millionaires each day.

Because 'The Great Gatsby' is often referred to as one of the greatest American novels, there are surely unrealistic expectations on poor Mr. Luhrmann. However, for the most part he succeeds in making all of these characters captivating. DiCaprio is just as alluring as the literary Jay Gatsby, allowing the audience to be enthralled by his unravelling backstory. And although 3D seems to be an unnecessary distraction here, the lens we view the Jazz Era through is visually stunning, with bright colours and striking backdrops. Thanks to Jay-Z, it's accompanied by a superior score too!

However, the problem lies in the fact that the source material doesn't necessarily lend itself to being adapted for the big screen. F. Scott Fitzgerald's original work takes place mostly in the head of protagonist Carraway, and is supposed to be a critical mirror of that era. Luhrmann's grandiose style is perfect for exposing the over-the-top culture of the 1920s; however, Carraway and Fitzgerald's analysis and criticism can't really be acted out onscreen without a heavy reliance on voiceover.

The legendary Robert Redford and Francis Ford Coppola were also unable to masterfully pull off an adaptation of 'The Great Gatsby' in 1974, so don't take it to heart too much, Leo and Baz!