Review: The Great Gatsby (2013, Baz Luhrmann)

8197056RATING: 8/10

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Debicki, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, FAmitabh Banchchan 
Screenplay: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce (Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

NOTE: Sorry that this review has been overdue, but I needed a few days to think about it and plus I’m on vacation.

What people tend to forget is that Baz Luhrmann is a visionary apart from being a story teller. The past reviews that I’ve been reading about his version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” has been mostly mixed. Because that’s who Baz is, its either you love his style or you hate it. Before I continue any further, I tried my best to avoid my bias with the director (who’s work I obviously love) and it’s original source material (one of the greatest American novels I’ve ever read). What I can say is, that it was very hard. Because despite the big hate a lot of major film fanatics have for the film, I look beyond the many problems that “Gatsby” had and viewed it as a avid film goer. It is surely entertainment.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story of the romance set in the 1920s, it tells the story of the once Great Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) who threw grand parties pouring with the best liquor during his day. Seen through the eyes of his more then humble neighbour Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), the story exploits the lifestyle of both rich and famous pre-depression America. Though we only meet Gatsby after the first 30 minutes of the movie, we are introduced Nick’s beautiful cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), the wife of millionaire Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). As Daisy and Nick rekindle their friendship, they get closer to the interest of the Great Gatsby for reasons that are still a mystery. Here we unravel a romance that will never be forgotten. Before I say anything more, from this point on this review may contain minor spoilers. Nothing major though (because it’s in the trailer). Daisy and Gatsby were past sweethearts in a time before Gatsby made his fortune.

The first problem I encountered with “The Great Gatsby” is it’s lack of identity as a movie. Though it is wildly entertaining and is a pleasure to the eyes as well, Gatsby lacked its own seal of “special” and seemed like a carbon copy of many Baz Luhrmann’s films. We’ve got the modern music and classic language that he’s known for (firstly introduced in Romeo + Juliet), quick editing (most of his movies) and a tragic romance. All these elements are not wrong. I say this because I had a problem with their inclusion of Nick Carraway’s character becoming a writer and telling the story through flashbacks. As he flashbacked, I flashbacked the same set up Luhrmann did with Ewan McGregor back in 2001. Luhrmann has a very distinct style and he can get away with anything for movie goers who don’t have more educated opinions, but that’s exactly my point…he could have changed it up, done anything. Not repeat. Baz is an original, so I was disappointed to see this.

When I first heard of his casting choices, I will admit I was a bit worried about Carey Mulligan. Mulligan, who has proven herself as a serious actress just didn’t seem to be a good Daisy to me. But that was before seeing the movie. As I previously stated before, Farrow’s 1974 Daisy lacked depth. But Mulligan was something else for me. You didn’t know what she was thinking and that’s exactly what Daisy is. She’s a fickle minded woman who doesn’t know what she wants. Her character is all over the place, and Mulligan did great. Newcomer Elizabeth Debicki was spectacular. For such a small role, she was scene stealer. She doesn’t have big Oscar moments where she needs to chew scenery, but her charismatic Jordan Baker may even be better then many nominated Supporting Actress performances of 2012. And I say that with confidence.

Tobey Maguire was as decent as usual. However, he showed better acting skills as Peter Parker in the Spider-Man series. Leonardo, is something else. It seems that DiCaprio tries to match his performances with roles that are just as good. As Gatsby, Leo is able to bring Gatsby to life in a funny, charming, mysterious, brooding and “GREAT” way. He was not a piece of boring wood that Redford did before him. DiCaprio’s performance as “Gatsby” will definitely be   the most remembered performance in the film. The introduction of his character, with Luhrmann having the Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” playing in the background, is the most cinematic scene of 2013 so far. It was one of the high points of the movie.

I will be brief with the production design and costuming because their obviously spectacular. They are impressively full of detail. Another high point in the film. Also, props to Luhrmann’s choice of music in this one. It was bold to choose such a star studded group of performers for this film. It worked because the movie has a whole lot of partying in it, nothing defined party music then THIS generation. The soundtrack is currently on loop in my ipod right now.

Without doubt, I can say I was impressed with Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby”, because it’s a summer movie that is different. It helps project the famous story that everyone should know to today’s generation. To tell you the truth, I was waiting for the end because I wanted to see what today’s audiences would think during the epic finale. I knew what was going to happen, and most of the audience (including my family didn’t). The y were shocked, happy, sad and most of all entertained with everything. I agree with the normal movie goer, and I can’t wait to see again the visual feast that Gatsby is.

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