Monday, May 13, 2013

The Great (it is!!) Gatsby! Baz Lurhman's best yet

The Great Gatsby – Movie Review

By Anne Brodie May 13, 2013, 13:24 GMT
The Great Gatsby" follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, ...more

I fell in love today, with a movie. I resisted and resisted its garish, bone cracking, eye-frying opening party sequence which was followed by a soggy lull suddenly to be catapulted by a sudden turn in story and tone.

When it reaches that point, it is all systems go and it burned like wildfire. The depth charge of the story comes through all that Lurhman excess, against all expectations. It may even heighten it.
Growing into Lurhman’s masterful grasp of the Fitzgerald story and the depth of his understanding of it, the vivid characterizations of the actors and script and I was hooked. Lurhman didn’t reinterpret the story which is a gem in and of itself; instead, he underscored everything that was good about it. He kept it important.
And to repeat an old axiom, he makes The Great Gatsby interesting to a new generation of viewers, like the one raised on Jay Z and Beyoncé who produced and provided a song respectively.
In short, cash-strapped Nick Carraway rents cottage next to the Jay Gatsby’s “nouveau” mansion on Long Island. He watches Gatsby watch a green light across the bay. It’s on the dock of the home where Daisy and Tom Buchannan live. Jay befriends Nick and he learns that Daisy was Jay’s lover who refused to marry him because he was penniless. Instead, she married Buchanan, a man she didn’t love, a wealthy man.
Gatsby throws spectacular parties and “everyone in New York comes in cars” in hopes that Daisy will wander in. Nick arranges a meeting, Jay and Daisy fall in love again and Tom an alpha dog of a brute gets wind of it.

What follows is breathtaking, the speed and thoroughness of the comeuppances. It takes over two and half hours to tell what happens; the emotional punch is total.
Leonardo DiCaprio does superlative work, as the titular anti-hero, the brash social manipulator as he moves through joy, renewal, heartbreak and destiny. He is at the top of his game as Gatsby, carving him into high relief, giving him a heart, naturalistically and realistically.
The other performances are good, the repellent Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton, the friendly but ultimately hobbled observer Nick (Tobey Maguire) and the reason for it all, the feckless Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). But this is DiCaprio’s film.
Lurhman’s in-yer-face modus operandi is evident in a few scenes but the rest of the movie pretty much plays out like a movie, lit by magic and extraordinary colors of course. There is the briefest shot of the sky over Long Island, in the upper portion of the screen and it is brilliant with individually glinting stars.
Just for a split second. That’s the kind of detail to be found in this masterpiece. But its greatest element is it’s full on intelligent emotion.
Visit the movie database for more information.
Written by Baz Lurhman and based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel
Directed by Baz Lurhman
Opens May 10
Runtime: 143 minutes
Country: Australia / US
Language: English

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