If you have ever been privy to a secret, a secret so great that it could ruin someone’s life but you have no right to tell anyone, then you know how it feels to be Nick – the story teller, the confidant, the friend, and the person within and without.
Set in New York City during the Jazz Age, the years between the Great Depression and World War One, I was amazed at how Australian director Baz Luhrmann created a cornucopia of brightly colored dresses, awe-inspiring sets and well-placed musical numbers to embody the romanticism and decadence of The Great Gatsby era. The use of colors was not just to visually titillate the audience but also to symbolically strengthen the emotions being depicted in each scene.
Although the stage was already undoubtedly amazing, the film’s cast added their own flair to make one extravagant production. Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Jay Gatsby – the fabulously wealthy but mysterious protagonist who throws grandiose parties every Saturday night was I think one of his career’s best. He was calculating but instinctive, invincible yet vulnerable. Tobey Maguire played a very convincing Nick Carraway – the 29-year old Yale graduate who moved to New York to be a Bond salesman and Gatsby’s curious and easy-going neighbor. Joel Edgerton held his own playing Tom Buchanan – the robust millionaire and a former Yale football star (who I assume is a hedonist). Carey Mulligan’s portrayal of Daisy Buchanan, Nick’s attractive but shallow cousin and Tom’s wife, was the only disappointment. Her lackluster performance betrayed the idea of what was supposed to be one of the more interesting characters in this story..
For those who have read the book, your opinion of this film may vary depending on your interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary work. Clearly the focus of the movie was to wow the audience with its stage and actors as opposed to delivering a very touching, very serious tragedy which is what the book was about. This is a common problem with film adaptations of great literary works as the audience already have a pre-conceived notion of what the film should be like.
But, if you are like me who hasn’t read the book, The Great Gatsby is a highly entertaining film to watch. If the stage wasn’t enough to keep you on your seats, watching each character’s story unfold was like reading fables in the bible – each with its own beginning, end and a lesson you would take with you once you leave the theater. The greatest being the pursuit of an incorruptible dream: The dream of a happy ending.