Another visual stunner from Luhrmann

The Great Gatsby – directed by Baz Luhrmann

The moment that Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway finally met Gatsby, when Leonardo Dicaprio turned around and smiled that smile, my heart did a little leap, and it confirmed for me that he was perfect for the role, and that this film was going to be totally worth it for me.

The story is framed by a narration by Carraway as his rehab doctor encourages him to write it all down after the end to that summer. Maguire plays the insider-outsider with either constant wide-eyes and goofy smile, or zonked out – still with those wide eyes but staring. Carey Mulligan as Daisy is all doe eyes, shallow and fun-loving, yet trembling and weak, showing us another side to this actress who wowed as the confident young lead of An Education.  Australian actor Joel Edgerton, who looks like a slightly ravaged Guy Pearce here, is suitably boorish as Daisy’s husband Tom Buchanan.

Co-starring with the principal actors is Luhrmann’s artistic vision. No-one does parties on film like Luhrmann, and the raves at Gatsby’s mansion are jaw-droppingly amazing, and here the mainly contemporary soundtrack with inclusions from Jay Z and Beyoncé works really well.

There are no musical set pieces as in Moulin Rouge though.  Here the music comes in little strains throughout, intertwining pop songs with jazz, blues, and notably Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

There was a pervading air of melancholy throughout and even when people were ostensibly happy, it was that kind of brittle happiness – except for the flashback of when Gatsby first met Daisy.  I can’t think of anyone else other than DiCaprio that could have played the title role – it’s his film.

Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby is not subtle – at all!  
It won’t be for everyone – the critics didn’t really like it …
But I did!  

Most importantly, it made me want to re-read the novel – pronto. So, I’m just going to riffle my bookcase …

13 thoughts on “Another visual stunner from Luhrmann

  1. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    I read it a few weeks ago in anticipation and can’t wait to see it. Not being a visually descriptive novel, I knew it would be perfect for Baz Luhrmann, it gives him carte blanche to indulge the imagination stylistically and it sounds like he succeeds. I think I’ll be like you, I’m not expecting a great story line, just a visually stunning film and Leonardo DiCaprio enjoying himself, he’s such a great actor.

  2. Margaret @ BooksPlease says:

    I’ve only just seen the new Star Trek this week – Benedict Cumberbatch was just superb. I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

    But we couldn’t fit in watching The Great Gatsby too, so that’s for later, which gives me time to re-read the book. It sounds absolutely marvellous.

    • gaskella says:

      Glad you enjoyed Star Trek too – is there no end to Cumberbatch’s range?! I have Thursday afternoons free, so am finding them an ideal time to go to the cinema (no arrangements needed for my daughter like in the evenings), and I have the added bonus of getting to see the new films early on the day of release.
      Of Gatsby, I’m now re-reading the book – and the main action and actual dialogue is all there in Luhrmann’s vision, just tweaked. I hope you’ll love it too.

  3. Teresa says:

    Child care arrangements awkward here too so I I might venture to see this during the day. Have only gone to cinema on my own when abroad…somehow it felt more comfortable than at home!! Star Trek is on the agenda too. 🙂

  4. gaskella says:

    There was just me and four old ladies yesterday – nothing to be scared about. I love going to the cinema on my own – no distractions, and lots of room in the afternoons!
    Hope you enjoy the movies if you go.

  5. Lucy says:

    I’m seeing it tomorrow – I can’t wait! I’m not expecting it to stay close to Fitzgerald’s novel throughout, despite how it’s a favourite book of mine, but simply for it to be visually fantastic. That will make it worth watching. I was planning to re-read the novel beforehand, but my boyfriend has stolen both copies I have… perhaps I’ll try and get one back to read tomorrow!

    • gaskella says:

      I came straight home and dived into the novel again. Most of the dialogue is exactly as in the book. The action is tweaked but it’s all there in exuberant technicolor. I saw it in 2D and it was still visually wonderful – imagine the 3D will have some great moments.

  6. ravingreader says:

    With all this talk about Great Gatsby and it being years since I had this in grad school, I checked out a copy from the library and read twice straight through as it was so good. (That hardly ever happens.) Now I wonder if the movie can live up to the book! What do you think? Or just to the movie expecting another experience completely without comparing it to the original book? all best, liz in texas.

Leave a Reply