Initially I was not excited to learn that Baz Luhrmann was teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio to make The Great Gatsby, 17 years since their last project. I did not like Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet; neither did I admire DiCaprio’s Romeo. Yet, due to the huge buzz around the movie, I decided to give the Great Gatsby a try and did not leave disappointed.
The Great Gatsby captures you from its first moment, with the allure of the big city and the glamour of the 1920s. Set in New York after the first world war, the movie revolves around Nick Carraway, a young man who gets drawn into the shiny life of his wealthy neighbour Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio). The audience soon discovers an old love story between Carraway’s married cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and his new friend Gatsby, revealing the truth behind Gatsby’s seemingly happy life.
Luhrmann presents us with what he does best; a movie showered with extravagant decor and vociferous musical performances, but most of the musical scenes seemed as if they could have been taken from Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann’s popular musical.
I had difficulty accepting hip-hop in the century-old atmosphere, but the choice of background music gradually improved as Luhrmann coupled DiCaprio and Mulligan’s love scenes with the intense voice of Lana Del Rey in her timeless song Young and Beautiful.
The casting was successful, except for Mulligan, who was not half as beautiful as F. Scott Fitzgerald promised Daisy to be. Other than that, the movie is as faithful to the book as an adaptation can be and most of the dialogue is taken directly from the classic novel. Luhrmann succeeds in making the film his own by creating a fantasy world, slightly deviating from the book’s essence.
Although The Great Gatsby is worth watching, it is not a masterpiece. Both Luhrmann and DiCaprio have developed as artists since Romeo and Juliet, but neither the director’s vision nor the acting of the main characters are more than adequate. What makes the movie magical, besides the extravagant production, is the timeless beauty of Fitzgerald’s simple tale.