The Glitz And Glamour Of The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby hits theatres on May 10th (Photo credit: Warner Bros.)

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece comes to life in Baz Luhrmann’s film The Great Gatsby, which hits theatres this week.

The movie’s narrator, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), is the ultimate outsider (think Dan Humphrey of Gossip Girl fame). He has just enough money to associate himself with the rich and beautiful, but not enough to be taken seriously. As the film begins we meet Nick in a psychiatrist’s office, where he is reflecting on the summer of 1992 – the summer of Gatsby.

Nick’s story is one of contradictions and opposites: the untouchable glamour of East Egg and the grit of the valley of ashes; the obsessive qualities of love and the destruction of marriage; over-indulgence and vast emptiness. As the summer goes on, Nick begins to lose himself in the unbearable weight of everyone else’s secrets while he struggles to find out the truth about the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his relationship with Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan).

Luhrmann’s anachronistic musical choices highlight these differences. He seamlessly blends 1920s jazz with modern hits such as Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”. Lana Del Rey’s new song, written exclusively for the film, does an excellent job of reflecting on the loneliness and desperation for connection that seem to haunt the characters in both Fitzgerald’s and Luhrmann’s worlds.

The director, who also worked on Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Moulin Rouge! (2001), brings his token touch of excess and fantasy into his newest project. Gatsby’s mansion has an almost Disneyesque treatment, and fireworks, glitter and shooting stars abound. The parties that Gatsby throws are perhaps a bit overacted, and the humor feels forced, but Luhrmann makes up for this in the more intimate, quieter scenes between DiCaprio and Mulligan.

In the end, Fitzgerald’s story prevails. In fact, lines from the novel often physically appear on screen and the characters stay true to the ones found in the book. It is risky to touch such a classic and much-loved story like The Great Gatsby, and one thing is sure: lovers and haters will be fighting about this adaptation for weeks to come.

Tags: Leonardo DiCaprio

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