17 June 2013

The Great Gatsby

‘Gatsby? What Gatsby?’ Utters the meek, prim and proper Daisy Buchanan played by Carey Mulligan in the latest instalment from the Australian director Baz Lurhmann; ‘The Great Gatsby’. After appearing in Tarantino’s controversial ‘Django’ earlier this year Leonardo DiCaprio returns to our screens playing the part of the very wealthy, handsome Mr. Gatsby and delivers (as usual) a spectacular performance – although with the occasional slip in accent but I think we can let this one slide - ‘Old Sport’. Acting alongside DiCaprio we have a return from the former Spiderman – Toby Maguire (Nick Carraway), who arguably has more screen time brings a versatile performance to his character battling with chronic alcoholism, anxiety and depression after he gets taken under Gatsby’s wing (let’s hope his spidey powers will save him now). Right, let’s get one thing straight - trying to stretch a 180 page novella into a 2 and a half hour motion picture has proved trying. In certain scenes you will long for the stylish, entertaining party scenes that take your breath away with all their grandeur instead of sitting through what seems to be general chit chat between irrelevant people. Having said that, the majority of what is on screen will seduce you enough to keep you anticipating the inevitable downfall of these corrupted characters.

Amongst these troubled, unhappy characters we also have appearances from Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and Jason Clarke, who all bring the characters from F. Scott Fitzgerald novel alive on screen, bursting with every emotion imaginable. So here we are in the roaring twenty’s. Prohibition at large, the white/ black divide still present, the newly booming industrial revolution polluting the air but the one thing that keeps going is the music. The music never stops. Many viewers will find the soundtrack intruding and out of place alongside the 20’s image but with the likes of Jay-Z, Florence and the Machine, Nero and Beyonce, this juxtaposition works flawlessly with the jazzy, big band feel the sound department has given these modern tracks. With the lavish and luxurious sets Lurhmann virtually plays homage to himself, evoking our thoughts back to his 1996 Romeo and Juliet’s fantastically choreographed party scenes and of course the most recent Moulin Rouge 2001 which undoubtedly is a theatrical performance, from start to finish. The direction does not shy away from this in Gatsby either. With every step, every moment being executed with perfect timing from the opening of windows to dance routines to the synchronised crossing of legs, all add to the visually stimulating cinematic experience of this film. Gatsby is thriving with parties, cocktails, violence, lying, sex and music. I certainly wanted to go to a house party hosted by the one and only Gatsby and listen to the soundtrack all night, but being careful not to piss him off!    

If you’re a Baz Lurhmann fan, like a get the girl plot or just going along to see how it compares to the 1974 adaptation (Mia Farrow and Robert Redford) then grab a ticket and be taken in by the perfectly damaged image of what love, obsession and lust can do to anyone of us.

Directed by - Baz Lurhmann
142mins, 12A (2013)

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