Out on a lake, past the gazing eyes of doctor T.J. Eckleburg, stands a mysterious man at the edge of a dock, reaching for a precious jewel across the bay that he longs to hold once again. He throws lavish, excessive parties in hopes of attracting her attention, but she never shows. A man of great hope, he continues alone, unfazed by the sea of partygoers who are more interested in the myth of their host than actually meeting him in person. Such is the life of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The movie is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), Gatsby’s neighbor and only true friend. He recalls Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who happens to be Nick’s cousin. She is married to the aristocrat Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), a racist S.O.B., whom cheats on Daisy every chance he gets with a married woman named Myrtle Wilson (Isla Fisher).
Eventually, Gatsby reunites with Daisy, thanks to Nick, and the two rekindle their old romance. The pressure from this lover’s triangle drives Daisy to make a horrible decision that leads to not only the death of the person she despises the most in the world, but also the person she loves the most.
No, this movie doesn’t follow the book to a t. How many do? That’s the way it goes. Get over it. However, Baz Luhrmann does create a colorful and spectacular vision of Fitzgerald’s world, albeit overwhelming at times. It’s a world that has more style than substance including the shallow characters, lavish homes, and excessive parties. Even the storyline has more style than substance, but that is the point. Nick makes that clear in his narrative. Nothing in this world is to escape his contempt…but Gatsby.
The film was superbly cast. DiCaprio has a brilliant portrayal of the man who simultaneously exudes great social awkwardness and great hope. Joel Edgerton does his best bringing Tom Buchanan to life (even though his character is little more than a caricature of a rich boor at times). I would like to have seen more of Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), but alas, it was not to be.
This film went to immense lengths to accurately capture the look and feel of the Roaring Twenties. I think they succeeded in that regard, but I give them an epic fail for deciding to use hip hop instead of jazz throughout the movie. Although I like the music in its own right, it didn’t belong here…just the way Madonna’s music didn’t belong in Moulin Rouge and Radiohead didn’t belong in Romeo + Juliet. I know that’s just Luhrmann’s style, but I find it distracting, and it cheapens the film.
This isn’t a perfect film, but it’s definitely worthy to be called great. Now, can someone explain to me why I should shell out $12.50 to see this movie in 3D?