Although it may lose track of its source material, feel ostentatious and overly feign. The Great Gatsby’s breathtaking visuals, captivating performances, and superb direction are enough to rescue it from becoming a complete disaster. No doubt those who’ve read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless novel, like myself, will have a harder time appreciating Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation than those not familiar with the text. However, if you’re able to separate from it and Fitzgerald’s unparalleled take on decadence, the American dream, and idealism. You’ll find that regardless of its primary focus on cynicism and extravagance, Luhrmann’s rendition isn’t all vanity and indifference. Sporting an array of high-profile actors and a substantial amount of glam and glitter. The Great Gatsby is a party you weren’t invited to, yet can’t help but enjoy.
Nick Carraway (McGuire) is a Yale graduate and a veteran of the first World War. Also a depressed alcoholic, Nick visits a psychiatrist and continually talks about a man named Gatsby. When Nick begins to struggle describing Gatsby, his doctor suggests writing his memories down. Recalling events beginning in 1922, Nick describes how his relationship with Mr. Gatsby came to be. Taking a job as a bond salesman in New York, Nick rents out a small house on Long Island in the village of West Egg. Soon after, Nick travels across the bay to visit his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Edgerton). Afterwords, Tom and Nick go to an apartment which Tom keeps for his affair with Myrtle (Isla Fisher), George’s (Clarke) wife. Later on, Nick receives a party invitation from his mysterious neighbour Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio). As more time passes, Nick and Mr. Gatsby grow close. Soon, Jay has an unusual request for Nick and what follows is a gripping tale of love and loss.
It is certainly frustrating to watch Luhrmann’s portrayal of the Roaring Twenties without the consequence and disintegration that Fitzgerald so elegantly masked. That being said, if Luhrmann’s discarding of social politics is inadvertent or not, there is no denying that he poignantly and potently captures the surface story of distanced lovers. While it may not provide, nor portray the downfall of the American dream. This adaptation of The Great Gatsby does brush a certain element that made the original text so relatable and distinguished. Luhrmann absorbs Fitzgerald’s relentless facet of reckless and uninhibited youth. While overall it may miss the mark on the underlying themes. The Great Gatsby does hit some of Fitzgerald’s plot points dead on and proves to be a worthy adaptation.
Starring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Toby McGuire, Joel Edgerton, and Jason Clarke. The Great Gatsby definitely has the eccentric, ecstatic, enthusiastic cast to illuminate the decadence and excess of the rich, wayward youth. Their dialogue and phantasmic appearances may appear to lack authenticity, but I assure you it’s accurate. Though everyone and everything seems staged, it never dwindles The Great Gatsby’s brightness.
Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t miss a beat in his accurate take on the eloquent and mysterious Jay Gatsby. Even though it’s not as formidable as his other, more impeccable roles, it’s certainly as memorable, old sport. Joel Edgerton, arguably only outdone by DiCaprio, exudes the diabolical deviance that plagues Tom Buchanan’s warped mind. Popping up for only a few minutes at a time, it’s difficult to judge Clarke’s performance. However, in limited time, Clarke’s role is significant and he, typically, makes good use of his screen time. As for McGuire, in the lead role caught between friendship and morals, there is nothing to nitpick over. Finally, the spellbinding Carey Mulligan gives another weightless, enduring performance.
Setting aside the power of its performances, the absence of social-political themes, and the plausibility of certain viewers likeness of it. The real strength of The Great Gatsby lies within its costume and set designs. However one may feel towards Luhrmann’s adaptation, there is no ignoring the entrancing beauty of the visuals. Accompanied by an odd mixture of classical and current music, the striking sets and Luhrmann’s direction form a sedating toxin that weaves through the viewers veins.
With each passing day, the more it grows on me. The highest praise I can give at the moment is that, The Great Gatsby is near impossible not to enjoy. Set aside the literary comparisons and take it for what it is.
The Great Gatsby: 7 out of 10.