Over the Top as only Baz Luhrmann could do
Let me start of with a confession; I've never read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I know to many people reading this, that may make me unqualified both to review this movie, and possibly to even claim myself an author. However, I might say that it makes me uniquely qualified to review this film on its merits as a film and not as an interpretation of the classic novel.
Mr. Gatsby is an amazingly rich and over the top gentleman living in the richest area outside New York City in the biggest house and throwing over the top parties every weekend. Everyone seems to know of Mr Gatsby, but no one seems to actually know Mr. Gatsby. That is until Nick Carraway moves into the small, nearly forgotten cottage next to Mr. Gatsby's mansion. Nick finds himself intrigued by the man and the mystery surrounding him. He finds himself personally invited to Mr Gatsby's home and hears the story of his life straight from the man himself. Finding it all too much to believe, Nick finds himself swept into the world of Jay Gatsby and becomes part of Gatsby's plan to regain the love of his life, Daisy, Nick's cousin, whom happens to already be married to another very rich, but very unfaithful man.
Even if that is not exactly true, this movie at least feels very historically accurate. Knowing the amount that I do about the time period in which it takes place, I feel like the film has captured the imagery, mentality, and romance of the time in way that can be appreciated by our current society. It is also visually impressive and just plain fun to watch. With it's modern day soundtrack, and colorful dream-like montage sequences, and has Baz Lurhamnn's stamp all over it.
Leonardo DiCaprio's performance is as great as all of his other takes on classic characters and historic people that America (and beyond) knows and loves. There is just something about him that allows you to forgot the actor entirely and see only the character in a way that few others do quite as well. I was also fond of Elizabeth Debicki's performance as Jordan and Isla Fisher as Myrtle because of their ability to bring a strength and intrigue to female characters that were not the leading lady. In fact, they may have even overshadowed Carey Mulligan's Daisy Buchanan. I don't feel this is anything against Carey's performance, just that the character was a lot less interesting which adds to the dynamic of the romance between her and Gatsby.
Whether you were a fan of the book or not, I think this film has something to offer most movie-goers.
See It Rate: ***.5 (partly because everyone else you know will have inevitably experienced this film and you wouldn't want to be left out, would you?)