Film Review: The Great Gatsby

The director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet, Baz Luhrmann, brings us a sleek looking adaptation of a F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel. The narrative is framed within the memories of Nick Carraway; a failed writer from the mid-west of America, who moves to New York in the 1920’s – to pursue a career in bond sales – and next door to the city’s most popular and mysterious resident, Jay Gatsby.

The director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet, Baz Luhrmann, brings us a sleek looking adaptation of a F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel. The narrative is framed within the memories of Nick Carraway; a failed writer from the mid-west of America, who moves to New York in the 1920’s – to pursue a career in bond sales – and next door to the city’s most popular and mysterious resident, Jay Gatsby.

Upon meeting his neighbor, amongst the all night parties and wild stories Carraway becomes infatuated with the lavish lifestyle Gatsby leads.  Although soon after they form a friendship, Nick discovers the ulterior motives behind Gatsby’s actions.  He real intentions lay in Nick’s cousin Daisy, a lost love that he has been chasing since his return home from the war. What Gatsby requires from Nick is his assistant in arranging a chance meeting with Daisy, in return Nicky will get piece of whatever shady action, Gatsby is involved in.

This adaptation can only be described with the use of one word, glamorous, Luhrmann’s slick visuals set upon the iconography of the Jazz Age, makes for a thrilling spectacle. Although the use of contemporary music does break the illusion of a period drama; I can see how they have tried break the cliché and give it a 21st century twist, but I’m not sure it quite works – Hip Hop does not go hand in hand with the Foxtrot – But nevertheless impressive camerawork makes the poor choice of soundtrack a distant memory; a swooping shot down the side of the Empire State building being amongst my favorites.

A lot can be said for the acting in this film; Toby Maquire’s awkward performance in the Spiderman trilogy may have not sat well, but it seems to fit the character of Nick Carraway like a glove, giving an arguably career best performance as Mr. Carraway.  Warrior star Joel Edgerton gives a solid performance as Daisy’s boorish husband Dan, along with Drive star Carey Mulligan, who convincingly plays the effervescent, self-absorbed young Daisy.  But shining brighter than they others is Leonardo DiCapario; displaying his versatility as the slightly insane Jay Gatsby; his character requires him to play an abstruse, eccentric that is obsessed with only one thing, this I feel, DiCaprio manages to pull this off perfectly.

That said this isn’t an award wining feature, it’s far from it, the visuals although bombastic, have a certain CGI feel to them, that doesn’t sit right with the theme of the narrative.  The scenes have great energy up until the love story between Gatsby and Daisy, takes over from Gatsby’s lustrous parties. At this point the film seems to die on its feet, dragging on to a predictable conclusion.

 

 

 

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