Putting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel The Great Gatsby on film has always been difficult. There was a 1926 silent version (which doesn’t survive), a 1949 film with Alan Ladd and a very bland but visually impressive film in 1974, starring Robert Redford and written by Francis Ford Coppola. Not to mention an already forgotten 2001 TV version.
But this version of The Great Gatsby works most of the time. Australian director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) does indulge his usual excessive style, but it is seldom dull and some of the 1920s atmosphere is very impressive, even if overdone. Leonardo DiCaprio is very good as the nouveau-riche Gatsby, loaded from bootlegging and throwing incredible parties on his Long Island estate, but still unhappy and longing for Daisy (Carey Mulligan in a nice performance). Tobey Maguire is good too as Daisy’s cousin Nick who helps Gatsby and Daisy get back together for the tragic finale.
Visually the film is quite impressive, even dazzling sometimes, but there’s an overuse of computerized effects that really look like computerized effects, especially in the wide shots of scenic Long Island. Too much of it just doesn’t look real. Probably the 3-D effects do not help. But at the same time there’s a lot to admire in the film, especially the costumes and camerawork, although the editing is too hyperactive.
The film overstays its welcome, it just goes on too long, but there’s a some solid entertainment getting there.
Rating: four deer out of five
New on Video
It has taken awhile but Cloud Atlas is finally out on video.
Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.