From the moment that I heard Leonardo DiCaprio was cast as Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," I have been counting the hours until the moment when I could see this on the big screen. It was a long wait, with its planned December 2012 release delayed until now. But, I finally got to don my 3-D glasses and, once again, enter world of Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, Jordan and the rest of those jazz babies, flappers and shady prohibition-era gangster-types. All I can say is, it was worth the wait.
|Born to be Gatsby|
Gatsby is the ultimate Hollywood story, even though it takes place on the gold coast of Long Island and there is just one little movie star in sight. The lure of the brass ring that promises a golden future, the American Dream, is the foundation of Gatsby's belief that he can invent himself and the foundation of the dream factory that is Hollywood. So, it's strange that this very Hollywood story has eluded Hollywood's best efforts. I haven't seen the earlier versions with Warner Baxter and Alan Ladd, but the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow didn't do it for it. It seemed too timid, too afraid to tamper in any way with its source material that it ended up being beautiful, empty and much too polite.
|Just another night at the Gatsby mansion|
Enter Baz Luhrmann, showman extraordinaire. This Gatsby is a feast for the eyes and, yes, for the ears. It is respectful of the novel (lifting chunks of dialogue right out of the book) and gives us Gatsby and Daisy and Tom in all of their glorious, empty excess. Much has been made of the Jay-Z, Lana Del Ray, Beyonce soundtrack, but it all fits. The marvelous party scene features a great Cab Calloway type and a heart-stopping version of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue, " complete with fireworks. The 3-D is exhilarating and just serves to emphasize the beauty in the already beautiful.
|Carey Mulligan - I can now imagine no other Daisy|
Carey Mulligan is a perfect Daisy. Here, her appeal is that of a 1920's Marilyn Monroe - soft, sexy, vulnerable. She is the golden girl of Gatsby's dreams. Tobey Maguire is very touching as Nick Carraway, Gatsby's friend to the end. Elizabeth Debicki is total 20s flapper as Jordan and Joel Edgerton is total brute as Tom.
|Nick and Jordan whoop it up at Gatsby's|
However, none of them can compare to DiCaprio, who gives the performance we was born to give. From the moment he appears on the screen, his shimmering, elusive, towering "it" of movie stardom dominates every aspect of the film. He is mysterious like Gatsby, hopeful like Gatsby, wounded like Gatsby, dangerous like Gatsby and heartbreaking like Gatsby. He is bigger than any 3-D trick, any mansion, jewel or fancy car. He is a movie star and he is unforgettable.
|Oh, to be loved as Gatsby loved Daisy|
So, all of our fears were unfounded. But, I trusted Baz Luhrmann all along. He is big and bold and adventurous and creative and his work breathes life onto the screen. It may not always hit the mark, and this film is not perfect, but it is glorious, outrageous and beautiful. Fitzgerald wrote about those who stood outside the golden circle and were seduced by the vulgar wealth of the 20s. Gatsby entered the circle and got burned. Luhrmann gives us the heat and the heartbreak.
|Nervously waiting to be reunited with Daisy|
Oh, and thank you, thank you, thank you, Baz Luhrmann for giving us an almost-summer ADULT movie! There is nary a super hero, supernatural or massive explosive in sight. Only people and a great, human story.
|Will we all be dressing like flappers this summer?|
|Will we be be having Gatsby-themes parties this summer?|
|Will girls be bobbing their hair this summer?|