Film Review: THE GREAT GATSBY

Visually sumptuous with fabulous music and gorgeous movie stars telling a tale of love, jealousy, materialism and self creation. Baz Lurhmanns "The Great Gatsby" is a real crowd pleaser... Naomi Rossdeutscher

I have watched Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in the 1974 version of "The Great Gatsby" many, many times over the years and I don't care what people say, I love it.

I tried to see Baz Lurhmanns version with an open mind, without comparing, but that turned out to be impossible with such strong memories of Redfords subtly, his lines, expressions, outfits, strangely his bathing suit and the house. I remember the frustrating tragic turns in the story and Mia Farrows 'Daisy' as a perfectly vacuous, uncaring dope.

In that earlier film, Gatsby seemed more mysterious and coolly refined, and the parties felt more real. But that's okay... I love that film and now here's a new one to love, packaged up nicely in modern technology.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO as Jay Gatsby and CAREY MULLIGAN as Daisy Buchanan in Warner Bros. Pictures' drama THE GREAT GATSBY, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

"The Great Gatsby" follows would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

MY THOUGHTS...

Baz Lurhmanns "Romeo and Juliet" is one of my 'all time' favourite films, everything about it was fabulous in my mind, but I never fully appreciated his other films until I watched them a couple of times, and then they got better and better. I like the way he stages scenes, the theatricality, the music and costumes. Baz and CM create spectacular cinematic experiences, so when I heard they were making this film I just smiled and thought, "Of course. That's got to be great"

And the Lurhmann's have delivered just as expected. The set design and costumes are elaborate, detailed and glorious, the parties - full of fake, pretentious and mostly uninvited people, are such amazing fun that IF they could be found, we'd all be there.

ELIZABETH DEBICKI, JOEL EDGERTON, CAREY MULLIGAN, TOBEY MAGUIRE "THE GREAT GATSBY" Courtesy of WARNER BROS. PICTURES

SPECTACULAR CASTING...

The always compelling Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby with such vulnerability and passion you have to love him.

My next favourite was Toby Maguire. And I bet everyone is talking about Elizabeth Debicki, the 22 year old who studied acting in Victoria, Australia, she lights up the screen with her angular photogenic face and modelesque figure and what a coo for her to act along seasoned players after having only a bit part in one other film before.

Toby Maguire plays Nick Carraway, the story teller, who arrives in the American East from out West wanting to learn about bonds and make some easy money. He gets lured to the lavish summer parties and is moved by Jay Gatsby's longing for his one true love, but in the end Carraway is so affected by tragedy and disgusted by shallow people, lies and the moral decay, that he returns home to the Midwest feeling like a wreck and wanting something real.

Carey Mulligan plays airy, flirtatious, spoilt Daisy, the woman Gatsby has never forgotten. I imagine any woman today would choose the handsome, ambitious Gatsby over Daisy's dud of a husband, who's a cheater and a racist, but Daisy turns out to be a careless coward.

Isla Fisher and Joel Edgerton fit the bill and deliver the goods, but it's Leo, the music and the visual style that shines most for me. I only wish there wasn't so much voice over and explanation about Gatsby's past.

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO as Jay Gatsby in THE GREAT GATSBY. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

"Gatsby? What Gatsby?" Daisy's line from the trailer keeps running through my brain. In the book Gatsby says, "Her voice is full of money." I say, "This film is full of money... and making a bit of dough too"

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO and TOBEY MAGUIRE in THE GREAT GATSBY. COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES