Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is a young man who once had dreams of being a writer but fell into the money filled land of Wall Street - hard life for some. He moves from Chicago to New York's fictional West Egg, next door to a mansion that is home to the elusive and mysterious Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). He also has a cousin living in East Egg, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), married to sports star Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), who introduce him to the land of New York through their friend Jordan (Elizabeth Debicki), parties, and trips to the valley of ashes, where Tom's mistress, Myrtle (Isla Fisher), and her husband, George (Jason Clarke), live. Eventually Nick meets Gatsby at one of his infamously huge parties after hearing many rumours about him. Soon Nick befriends his neighbour and discovers Gatsby's romantic past with his cousin. This begins to create a conflict in simple ol' Nick and the world around him transforms into a dream like reality; but whether it is a nightmare about to happen or not is yet to be seen.
|The gardeners at the Buchanans' tend to be referred to as field agents.|
|Green Screen? What green screen?|
Why would Baz Luhrmann, director of Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet, possible have to answer for anything? There is no issue with the film almost physically dripping in his unique style, though the editing at times can be distracting. No, the problems are most other things, primarily, the need to highlight anything and everything. Through Nick's constant narrating, the audience are informed (sometimes several times) of the actions that are happening or have just happened on screen. 'I went to Gatsby's' says Nick whilst walking to Gatsby's. But not just narration. Those of you who are familiar with the novel will surely know how symbolic it is. For example, the large billboard depicting the eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg, many literary analysts will tell you, symbolise the eyes of God watching the actions. They are always there. But now, imagine Baz Luhrmann sitting next to you, prodding you, shouting, 'SEE THAT BILLBOARD? THAT REPRESENTS GOD! DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?' There are many other examples but what the biggest fault of the film is, is assuming that all the viewers are imbeciles incapable of deciphering the action or meaning of what is being presented on screen. Whilst visually engaging, the way in which everything is presented just feels off. Take the soundtrack. Sometimes, the gentle covers of hip hop songs fit nicely into the 1920's but then a car passes by, champagne flowing (product placement galore), and seemingly is blasting out Jay Z. The music often does not fit. Sometimes it does. Hit or miss.
Visually captivating and, at times, emotionally consuming. DiCaprio holds the whole film up, and his chemistry with the other characters on screen makes everything that little bit better. A fun filled two hours but also a bit like a party that ends a bit early. Things are a bit mad, but because of that you missed all the exciting stuff and when it is revealed, the party is over, and you no longer care. An unsatisfactory film that will disappoint fans of the book but will no doubt entertain the less pedantic members of the world.
|I saw this with my good buddy Jack. Naturally, we dressed for the occasion.|