Who is in it?
Tobey “that guy from that film” Maguire ; Leo “really needs an Oscar” DiCaprio ; Carey “Brit playing American” Mulligan ; Isla “Aussie playing American” Fisher, Joel “Aussie 2 playing American” Edgerton.
Seriously classy cast, and I highly recommend just watching Carey Mulligan’s entire back catalogue.
What is it about?
Jay Gatsby pursues the American dream in the hopes of winning back his lost love, Daisy Buchanan in spite of the complication of her husband and his mysterious background.
It’s an adaptation of the F Scott Fitzgerald novel, in which the notion of whether money can buy you your dreams is tested to destruction.
John Green does a lovely job of discussing the book as part of his Crash Course in English Literature Series.
Why did I want to watch it?
It is directed by Baz Luhrmann whose films always look amazing and have fabulous soundtracks. Strictly Ballroom is one of my favourite films and I have watched everything he has done since.
I also liked the novel and thought that the themes are a great fit for Luhrmann’s talent for fanfare (remember the Capulet party scene in Romeo and Juliet – of course you do – you’d better this is the only clip I could find).
Did I like it?
On the positive side, the acting is wonderful. Daisy, Gatsby and lousy lousy Tom Buchanan are pretty much played to perfection.
Baz Luhrmann, as expected completely delivers on the opulence of the age with his visual style. The modern soundtrack is extremely well put together and fits the era to a tee.
Yet the framing device *sighs* is both distracting and detracting. Igenerally loathe voiceovers, and this is no exception, and the joy of Baz Luhrmann is that he can often create incredibly articulate images so I don’t think that he needs a convoluted story to tell this story. I would pay good money to see a reedited version of the film which left it out.
More on the whole framing device debacle is spoiled heavily here.
Should you watch it?
I would base this decision on your tolerance for Baz Luhrmann’s other films and your love of the book.
If you love Baz Luhrmann (we’re ignoring Australia, I liked it but it’s not his best work) it’s him largely on a high note and the cast is fabulous. If you have strong feelings about the book, maybe wait for the dvd. If you haven’t read it and like an exuberant ride of a film, then this is for you.
Other films it reminds me of:
Moulin Rouge with very rich people instead of really poor people and no songs.
Watch this instead/as well/before/after:
For a slightly more upbeat take on the roaring 20s, with a nod to F Scott Fitzgerald in the form of Tom Hiddleston (yum), watch Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris.