Movie Review: The Great Gatsby


by Jordan Hunt for CaryCitizen.

Cary, N.C. – The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton, is Hollywood’s fourth attempt at adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

Not Boring

Out of the four versions of Gatsby, I’ve only seen this most recent version and the one starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in 1974, and boy is that movie boring. It’s wasn’t terrible, but it felt like that movie would NEVER end.

Luckily, boring is a word that is not in director Baz Luhrman’s vocabulary, as he infuses his unique visual overkill to bring 1920s New York to life in a way that only he can.

The result is a huge improvement over the 1974 adaptation and is filled with some great old fashion movie star performances and Luhrman’s trademark visuals.

DiCaprio Nails It

It’s kind of amazing how perfect DiCaprio is for the part of Gatsby. I mean, his casting just makes sense, right?

I really do believe Leo is one the few true movie stars out there, and he fits the role of the mysterious, charming millionaire like a glove.

It also helps that this is DiCaprio’s second film with director Luhrman, who previously directed him in their version of Romeo & Juliet.

Having that familiarity only adds to his already confident and natural acting ability. It’s not his absolute best performance (Django Unchained, anyone?), but it sure feels like he was born to play this part.

Everyone else though…

As for everyone else well, they all seem a bit overshadowed by DiCaprio, though that feels appropriate, to be perfectly honest.

Tobey Maguire, most famous for his portrayal of Spiderman, is fine as Nick Carraway, the story’s narrator. He’s always been good at playing quiet, passive characters, but we’ve seen him do it multiple times before and he doesn’t really add much to the movie.

Carey Mulligan fares a bit better as Daisy, the woman who Gatsby is desperate over. Mulligan suits the period extremely well and is very easy to watch, but she simply doesn’t have much to do.

If there is anyone who threatens to steal this movie though, it’s Joel Edgerton who you might recognize as a one of the members of Seal Team Six in Zero Dark Thirty and from the criminally under-seen fighting drama Warrior. Edgerton brings some serious energy as Daisy’s cheating husband and he ensures that his character is one that you just love to hate.

Director is also the Star

The other real star of the movie is director Baz Lurhman himself. If you’ve seen his previous films Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge then you have a pretty solid idea of what to expect.

Lurhman isn’t interested in realism or even adhering to the decade the story is set. Yes, it takes place in the 20s, but much like Moulin Rouge, this movie is filled with contemporary songs and set in a world that doesn’t quite feel real.

In fact, I think it should be said that if you weren’t a fan of those previously mentioned films, then this version of The Great Gatsby really won’t do much for you.

A Movie for Fans

In the end, I thought The Great Gatsby was mostly successful thanks to DiCaprio’s lead performance and Luhrman’s outlandish and over the top style. Fans of Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet should absolutely see this in theaters.

For everyone else though, I say wait to satisfy your curiosity and give it a chance on DVD.

2 replies
  1. Patty C
    Patty C says:

    I thought Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Nick Carraway was very well done, quite appropriate for the sensibilities of his character, and a good balance to off-set the “over the top”, extravagant lifestyle of the prosporously wealthy Long Island society of the 1920’s. The characters and story-line were well developed. The movie made me want to go back and re-read my high school English assignment that I didn’t completely understand back in the day.

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