Baz Luhrmann first showed his extensive creative nature in Romeo and Juliet back in 1996 and since then has made instant classics, such as the bold blockbuster, Mulan Rouge. Luhrmann has returned with an adaptation of Fiztgerald’s 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, widely regarded as one of the most significant and best literary pieces of the 20th century. Leonardo Dicaprio is joined by Tobey Mcguire in this tale of life, love and the lavish lifestyle of the mysterious war hero turn millionaire.
Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a extravegent and undoublty lonely, self-made millionare who stumbles upon his new neighbor, Nick Carraway (Tobey McGuire), a budding and ambitious bondsmen. Nick is set up as matchmaker, as Gatsby longs to met again with his former love, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Jay sets himself the mammoth task of acquiring Daisy’s love once again, yet she is married to a brutal, adulterous and equally wealthy polo player named Tom Buchcnan (Joel Edgerton).
Written by Lurham and Craig Pearce, the screenplay produces a sophisticated and highly emotive narrative, ranging from the colloquial, sassy, working class Myetle Wilson, played by Isla Fisher, to the highly astute yet hypocritically angry Tom Buchanan. All characters included are provided with a near-perfect narrative, which effortlessly exploits the character’s emotions, creating heated bursts of passion and magnificant displays of the pain of love. Dicpario switches from a mature, young gentleman, rooted with a polite decorum to a truly angered and terrifying pained man, instantaneously. He exploits the characteristics needed for a man-on-the-edge so well: his effortless slide from desperation to obsessive hope exceeds the expectations needed for such an iconic literary character. Carry Mulligan portrays a torn chracter who personifies the throws of love; her raw energy on screen highlights the noble and forbidden qualities of both Tom and Jay. Tobey McGuire’s Nick Carraway narrates the film and retrospectively recounts the sporadic nature of Jay’s and Daisy’s relationship: McGuire holds the film together and gives The Great Gatbsy an omniscient and partially neutral story-teller, which produces a focal point to which the film consistently sticks to.
Jay-Z provides a hugely diverse soundtrack and makes the music in The Great Gatsby archaic but extremely fitting. Frankly, the use of modern rap, soul and pop music contrasted with jazz and stereotypical 1920s swinging music is genius. A blend of modern music and an early 20th century setting could easily have been catastrophic, but through Luhrmann and Jay-Z, it is expertly utilized and results in an auditory pleasure.
Musical masterpieces are paired with consistently stunning 1920’s backdrops, from Gatsby’s idyllic mansion to the slightly haunting green light which Jay obsesses over. Dominated by touching and saddening themes, Lurhmann creates a detailed early 1900s world which constantly enchants. Tiffany, the world famous designer company, provided countless jewelry, stain-glass windows and mutliple costumes which portray the archetypal dress sense the post-world war one millionaires used, thus creating an authentic and glamours premise for The Great Gatsby. Another astounding spectacle is the sheer scale of the parties: Lurham uses hundered of actors, including showgirls and jazz bands all extravagantly dressed, surrounded by businessmen and rich women to show the variety of attendants to Gatsby’s weekly gathering, all in the hope that Daisy arrives.
Partly taken straight from Fitzgerald’s masterpiece and partly novel, the script provides every single character with a huge spectrum of emotions to portray. 4*
Luhrmann produces a masterpiece which contains everything an adaption of The Great Gatsby needed: drama, romance, extravagance and passion. 4*
Verdict: Good show, old sport. 4*