The Great Gatsby (12A)

Directed by Baz Lurhmann
Starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Tobey Maquire, Carey Mulligan
On general release from 16th May 2013

Reviewed by Tom Bottle

“You can’t recreate the past”, Nick Carraway (Maguire) tells Jay Gatsby (Di Caprio), but director Baz Lurhmann has in retaining all the trapeze artists from Moulin Rouge on camera, to produce the same sweeping, swooping, and exhilarating shots for The Great Gatsby. Backed by familiar boom boom, frenetic music, and fantastic creatures partying till Kingdom Come, there are moments when you murmur, “WOW!”

That Scott Fitzgerald got us to care about the outlandish egotism and vanities of the super rich says everything about the beauty and longing of his writing. Trying to get a similar emotional commitment in the cinema is always a toughie, especially when taking on a classic, so Lurhmann sticks to the spectacle and the exciting. Not entirely, but first the story.

A fabulously rich, mystery man (Jay Gatsby) arrives in West Egg holding staggeringly wonderful parties he never takes part in, hoping a lost love, Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan) will turn up. Daisy lives across the sound married to all American hero turned philanderer, Tom Buchanan (Edgerton). The story is narrated by Nick Carraway, Gatsby’s neighbour and cousin of Daisy, and he acts as the link between the two.

Fitzgerald wrote the book then tore out almost everything he had Gatsby say, and anything we do know is only hinted at and comes through Carraway. Part of the reason for Di Caprio’s delayed entrance as the dreamer and schemer who wants it all.

The trouble is that this mysterious and shady past is played out (see the 1949 Alan Ladd GG for the full-on gangster version) making Leo tread water until the later confrontational scenes with Tom Buchanan. Now you start to feel for them both, rich men, desperate in their different ways for a girl who may or may not love them.

Can anyone love anyone in a world so distorted by wealth and privilege? Scott Fitzgerald spent his life in awe of, and exposing the cruelties of the insanely rich. Ever wondered what is it really like to party like that, night after night, year after year? When the credits rolled there was a deep silence in the audience that went on and on. It’s crazy, we can’t recreate the past, stop it.

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed

Comment left by Diane Jansen on 10th June, 2013 at 18:12
I love going to the Silver Screen on a Tuesday and Thursday before five at Fact. Tickets are £4.50 with a free coffee and biscuits but the sign stresses you can only take two. It seems people of a certain age have been taking more than they should!! Fact has lovely reclining seats and the inane chatter is stopped with someone shouting shush. My daughter went to see Gatsby in 3D and said she came out with a headache. I was pleased I watched it in the 2D version. The narrative is told through Toby Maguire who plays Nick who has become a sad alcoholic and on his Psychiatrists advice writes the story. Leonardo DiCaprio plays The Great Gatsby with his blond hair swept back, sun tanned face and penetrating eyes. Every other sentence he said was ended with ‘old sport’ which did get annoying. He obtained his money from dubious means and built his huge mansion all for his past love Daisy (Carey Mulligan). While across the river he looks at Daisy’s house which was built on old money. Gatsby has the most glamorous parties with fireworks, dancers and musicians, no expense spared. The colour and costumes are amazing with designer dresses and over 300 extras. I loved the dark billboard with the all seeing glasses as Gatsby speeds through the poor part of town in his bright yellow 1929 Packard. He had lots of acquaintances but his only real friend is Nick as the final scene reveals. Well worth seeing if you only want a film with easy watching that doesn’t stretch the imagination. Written By Diane Jansen 22/05/2013