May 29, 2013 6:00 pm

Remakes are a tricky business; the whole team from director to actor is under the spotlight for attempting to re-create the marvels of a past film. Let’s get this straight, Baz Luhrmanns’ past movies have not left a strong mark; however, The Great Gatsby rises above expectations. The veteran took control of the script, adapted screenplay, and has done justice to the classic novel with this attempt. It certainly is his best work to date. gatsby

Period films rely heavily on set designers and art directors; Luhrmann’s attempt to shoot a stylised version of the 1920s with a 3D offering is enhanced by the movie’s art and style department’s successful attempt at recreating this era. However, the movie does have its shortcomings; some of the action scenes – namely the car chase and scenes on the Brooklyn Bridge –  look slightly out of place. Also, the graphic representation of Tobey Maguires’ voice-over which involves words typed on the screen does not fit as well and slightly tarnishes the 1920s setting.

Coming to the plot of the movie, namely the quintessential display of old money, the ideals of the American dream, and narcissism in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, Baz Luhrmann’s film captures that same fervour of grandiosity. The story telling deserves brownie points. As a book that is now being brought to life on the silver screen for the fifth time, Luhrmann may well be the most suitable filmmaker to direct this latest version.

gatsby partyNick Carraway’s (Toby McGuire) story begins with his mysterious wealthy neighbour, Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) whose lavish parties are his pride and joy. As the two cross paths the enigma begins to unravel. Gatsby’s old flame is Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), from whom he was separated during a war. During Gatsby’s long absence, Daisy married another wealthy millionaire (Joel Edgerton). Gatsby now attempts to win her back by enlisting the help of Daisy’s best friend, Jordan (Elizabeth Debicki) and Nick.

The music takes some time to gel in the period setting, especially the Jay-Z track which plays for around ten seconds and sounds more like a soundtrack for a sales advertisement  than a background score. Despite this, overall the music succeeds in creating the right atmosphere for the opulent and seductive wild parties that Gatsby hosts at his mansion.

The acting on display is top-notch, though one wonders why Luhrmann went on to cast Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachan, as the actor has no  gatsby costumesscope and to waste an actor of such magnanimous calibre in a cameo makes no sense. Decaprio is on terrific form, and it feels as though the role was written for him; his youthful good looks suit the part perfectly. Maguire also fits in perfectly as the neighbour who is entranced by Gatsby. Carey Mulligan, on the other hand, is slightly unconvincing; the charisma and sheer sex appeal that the novel narrates is absent here. As a woman from Gatsby’s past and the one that he would give anything to be with again, she fails to bring to life the maturity and seductiveness that Fitzgerald describes.

Overall, at 142 minutes of exquisite costume and Decaprio at his best, The Great Gatsby deserves attention, with its music and screenplay paving the way for  younger generations, and styling and plot appealing to more mature audiences. I am no film critic so will leave out awarding stars and ratings –  instead, I would suggest The Great Gatsby is a must watch for all.

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