Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio (Jay Gatsby), Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan) & Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway)
Synopsis: A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor.
I feel I should get straight to the point with my thoughts on The Great Gatsby. For the most part, I was bored and I was rarely entertained. Which is a shame as I was looking forward to Gatsby breaking up the pace of an unrelenting summer of action spectaculars.
The film starts off with a voiceover from Nick Carraway (Maguire), giving us some backstory for his character and of his relationship with Jay Gatsby. We then swiftly move along, meeting the rest of the main characters. We learn little bits about them, and several plot points are set up. Unfortunately most of these characters are tiresome and one dimensional, only Edgerton as Tom Buchanan has any intensity to his role.
That is, apart from the character of Gatsby. Leonardo DiCaprio is really quite good in the role. He plays Gatsby as calm and charming, and helps make him a genuinely memorable character. As for Maguire, he seems to still be playing the character of Peter Parker. All nerdish charm and wide eyed wonder at what is going on around him, this was great in the Spider-Man films, but now makes his attempts at drama seem awkward and, at times, forced. I remarked to my girlfriend after the movie that while I don’t think he is a bad actor at all, I sometimes feel he is simply reading his lines and moving onto the next scene, as opposed to immersing himself in the role.
The story being played out also seems fairly simple to me, and I have a feeling from what I’ve read elsewhere that some of the deeper aspects of the book have been abandoned, such as the social commentary aspect. I also feel that the spectacle of the film seems to have taken precedence over the story. While the film is indeed beautiful to look at, with some stunning sets and a marvellous eye for style in regards to the clothes the characters wear, the film seems fairly vacuous underneath all it’s glitz and glamour.
It is odd, however, that once the mystery of who Gatsby actually is and his character is revealed, rather gloriously I might add (fireworks and everything) that this is also the point where the film loses its momentum. The spark is simply lost and the story becomes a rather routine love story, and probably takes a few hints from Romeo & Juliet.
Another thing to note is, while the soundtrack is quite good, it simply felt out of place to me. Jay-Z, Beyonce and Lana Del Ray combine to make what I’m sure is a great CD, but it all seems slightly off given the setting and mood of the film.
In Summary: Stunning visuals and great performance from Leonardo DiCaprio aside, The Great Gatsby is average at best and fails to be truly gripping.