THE GREAT GATSBY review by Ronnie Malik

THE GREAT GATSBY review by Ronnie Malik

 The Great Gatsby - New Trailer Poster

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Macquire, Carey Mulligan, Amtabh Bachchan, Jason
Clarke, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki

Rating: B+

1920’s glitz and glam make for a gorgeous backdrop and create the ambiance that brings to life another screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby.” Fabulous couture, opulent mansions, and luxurious cars provide tons of eye candy and would make anyone envious of the life style of the rich and famous during the roaring 20s. The Great Gatsby, shot in 3-D and directed by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet, Australia), is filled with computer generated shots and sweeping camera angels that provide a visual feast for the eyes.

Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who is writing down his story as a form of therapy to cure him of a life filled with depression and alcohol, narrates the movie based on the vintage novel. Nick comes to New York with aspirations to become a writer but takes a different turn when he is seduced by the flow of money and the power that comes with wealth. He rents a cottage and begins to study and work on Wall Street with the hopes of accomplishing a financial wind fall that will make all his dreams come true. Turns out Nick is right next door to a mystery neighbor that owns a magnificent mansion and is notorious for throwing extravagant parties that are the envy of all the socialites within 100 miles.

Thirty minutes into the film we are introduced to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), Nick’s mysterious and eccentric neighbor. Gatsby discovers that Nick is cousin to Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Daisy is the girl of Gatsby’s dreams and everything he has achieved was done all in the hopes of winning the heart of his true love who is now married to the arrogant and pompous Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), heir to an old American fortune. Gatsby befriends Nick and enlists the upcoming financial wizard to help him reclaim his lost love.

Nick arranges for Jay to meet Daisy, which of course leads to the two former lovers rekindling their affair. Daisy is the princess in the golden cage married to a brutish rude womanizing husband that is making her life miserable. So at first it is very easy for Gatsby to win over the millionaire’s wife who is looking for an escape from her imprisoned life. Tom is not the least impressed with the showy resident from across the bay and does not believe any of Gatsby’s stories regarding the origins of his wealth. On a mission to expose Gatsby as a fraud, Tom starts an investigation into the background of his nemesis.

Gatsby is working hard to convince Daisy that she should leave her husband and run away with him. They decide it is time to tell Tom that Daisy never loved him and she wants a new life with Gatsby. The two decided that right time to break the news will be over lunch but not without witnesses and some moral support. Gatsby requests Nick and Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debricki), a colorful and flamboyant female golf star, to be present during the luncheon. The meeting does not go as planned and leads to a chain of events that ultimately prevents Gatsby from being united with the love of his life.

Making a clever connection between the past and the present, The Great Gatsby soundtrack is a mix of songs from Jay-Z, Beyonce, Will i-am, and Neo. The rap inspired music works really well with all the hip hop dance moves weaved into a time period when none of that actually existed. The music brings focus to the over-the-top lifestyles that many social climbers experienced, but also gives hints that the lifestyle is often an illusion and very short lived.

Luhrmann’s wife, Catherine Martin, is an Oscar winner for her costume design on the film Moulin Rouge. Martin does not fail to impress and you can see her magic touch in almost every scene in The Great Gatsby. The production and costume design are fabulous and may just be an inspiration for a new fashion trend inspired by all the elegant and amazing clothing that the actors got to strut around in.

Leonardo DiCaprio captures the character of a man that is a dreamer and believes he is destined to become something great, all in the name of love. DiCaprio portrays Gatsby as a man with hope and passion but when his plan to recapture Daisy’s heart starts to fall apart, DiCaprio is able to smoothly transition into a man that is ruled by fear and desperation. It is his amazing performance that really holds this film together and makes The Great Gatsby worth the watch. Audiences will easily feel emotionally connected to the main character all due to DiCaprio’s commanding presence on the screen.

Tobey Maguire fell short and came across as rather mediocre in his role as someone in awe of his idol. The delivery of some Maguire’s lines just had no real emotion attached to them, and he pales when compared to DiCaprio who clearly outshines him in this movie. Carey Mulligan plays the fickle Daisy but in a way that you find yourself wondering what Gatsby ever saw in her. Through most of the movie Mulligan looks like she is in a daze, and it’s hard to see any personality traits that would cause a man to go through such great lengths to capture her character’s love. Two side characters, played by new comer Elizabeth Debricki and veteran Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, add a nice little spark to the movie. Too bad they did not get some more screen time.

Luhrmann’s version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wonderful novel is not only about lost love but also about how wealth can lead to corruption and ultimately to the downfall of those sucked into an opulent life that is more fantasy than reality. There is an underlying theme of the dark and selfish side of human nature when chain reactions are caused in the lives of those using others for their own gain and those being used.

The Great Gatsby is visually stunning, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants is well worth the cost of the ticket… to watch a film flowing with champagne and bursting with fireworks.

Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author