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 …