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The Great Gatsby: Review

The Great Gatsby: Review

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Jack Thompson (Rated M – 143 mins).

Seemingly hyped for months, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby extravaganza is pizzazz with a capital P – all glitter and glamour not afraid to be irresistibly over the top. The opening 40 minutes is full on, an excellent array of visuals, intrigue, amazing costumes, set designs and people having a good time to a jazz era infused soundtrack of modern hip hop. It’s towards the end of this opening stanza that an unforgettable dramatic introduction to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes place, an aura of which is unmatched. The rest of the film has a lot to live up to, it does, just.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a complex and detailed character study that wasn’t all roaring Twenties fun, there was a serious edge. Baz has done an admirable job in transpiring the audacious prose. Jay Gatsby is a self invented entrepreneur with a few criminal links. His Long Island mansion is the hot spot of parties and excess, he doesn’t know the majority of guests as they simply arrive and let loose.

After making an actual friend with his neighbour (and film narrator) Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a rare occurrence for the elusive Gatsby, it is revealed he is anxious to woo back a former flame and one true love, Daisy Buchanan. Trouble is she is married to brute sportsman Tom (Joel Edgerton with a striking pencil moustache and firecracker demeanour). Lust and obsession go by the wayside when multiple issues begin to mount, sadness is imminent.

Alongside Leo, the hand-picked cast as a collective is perfect, including a plethora of familiar Australian actors in supporting roles. Carey Mulligan (Oscar nominee for ‘An Education’) slinks around as the irresistible Daisy in some of the most beautiful costumes you will ever see, while an absolute scene stealer is Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan. A relative newcomer (she appeared in the disastrous ‘A Few Good Men’), Debicki commands attention without even trying. Her screen presence almost shuts everyone else out, an amazing talent with catwalk posture.

The 3D effects do little to enhance the story-telling. Coming at you in a blaze of glory, they eventually wear thin at over two hours. This opulent version of Gatsby is worth a look for many reasons. If nothing else, it made me want one of those glorious blue cocktails served at the Speakeasy bar.

© Shane A. Bassett

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