The Great Gatsby is one of those films that on paper looks perfect. The trailer then came along and ended up being a master class in trailer making. The promise was there but I just couldn’t muster up any interest in the film.
In order to remain consistent I will confirm for the record that I have not read the book.
PLOT: A naïve and doe eyed Nick (Tobey Maguire) moves to New York to make his fortune. Nick befriends the flamboyant Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCapio). Gatsby is known to all but known by none and rumours of his wealth spread like wildfire throughout New York. As Nick gets to know the real Gatsby it transpires that Jay is in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan). Gatsby and Daisy spend the summer together however as the season comes to an end telling Daisy’s husband Tom (Joel Edgerton) about their affair has tragic consequences. END PLOT
The plot of The Great Gatsby is more complex that it appears with social and class themes bubbling away underneath a traditional forbidden love story. I was never bored but I could feel my mind beginning to wander on several occasions. The running length of 142mins (IMDB) was a good half hour too long.
Leonardo DiCaprio is undoubtedly one of the best actors of our generation and as Jay Gatsby he does not disappoint. Gatsby’s shy awkwardness and nervous clumsiness evolve into obsession and sudden bursts of anger towards the end of the film and DiCaprio handles the small changes in Gatsby with ease.
DiCaprio is the star of the film but he is equalled by Joel Edgerton an actor who is slowly but steadily making a name for himself. Carey Mulligan has made a career of underacting and I have loved her for it but in The Great Gatsby the flighty nature of Daisy gives Mulligan much more to do than usual.
The weak link is Tobey Maguire and he manages to derail the film with his wide eye performance and cringe worthy narration. Maguire is the biggest casting mistake is recent memory – what the hell was James McAvoy doing when auditions were being held? To say that Tobey Maguire is awful is an understatement.
The Great Gatsby is directed by Baz Luhrmann and has all the hallmarks of his previous offerings. The sets and costumes are gorgeous but there were occasions when the setting overshadowed the storytelling. The extravagance thankfully takes a backseat in the final act when the drama is increased.
The film is much better than a style over substance argument but it just wasn’t the modern masterpiece that it was aiming to be. The Great Gatsby gets 6/10. Unfortunately you could watch the trailer for The Great Gatsby and get the same reward as watching the 2hour spectacle – if not more.