The Great Gatsby: "I Knew It Was A Great Mistake For A Man Like Me To Fall In Love"

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer:    Baz Luhrmann
               Craig Pearce
Starring: Tobey Maguire
               Leonardo DiCaprio
               Carey Mulligan
               Joel Edgerton
               Isla Fisher
               Adelaide Clemens
               Jason Clarke
               Elizabeth Debicki
Rating:    ***

Release Date: 16/05/2013

For the past few years The Great Gatsby has been hyped up, and the anticipation for it was rising for fans of the book, film maker and stars. It promised to be glamorous and lavish, filled with heartbreak and wonder; and that is almost what we got. The thing that lacked for me was the heartbreak. It had the extravagant costumes, and beautiful sets, and of course the acting was on top form, but (and I'm saying this having not read the book) the characters were hard to empathise for and a lot of the time I found myself not feeling distraught when something happened, but rather uninterested and blank.

Tobey Maguire's portrayal of the lost and naive Nick Carraway is superb. He is a man trying to make a life for himself in New York, taking a dull job and buying a forgotten cottage amongst the mansions of the rich and famous. He is searching for the path his life is meant to take, but he is still unsure of what it is.

Maguire plays it with a calmness, that from the outside looks safe and steady. However, you get flashes and moments of pure subtlety; moments where you see that underneath it all Carraway feels he is in way over his head and is almost panicking. The way that Maguire is able to show this to the audiences with out playing it over the top or hamming it up is superb; and it is the quieter more hidden performance that means he is able to portray what is quintessentially the backbone and driving force of the movie.

Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio,
Carey Mulligan & Joel Edgerton
In the title role we have DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, a theatrical and over-the-top millionaire living 'the life' just a few metres away from the quieter life of Nick Carraway. He is a man with many secrets, and is more often than not the talk of the town; something that deep down he really loves.

DiCaprio really plays this role perfectly, and is actually one of the only characters I found myself willing on and feeling connected to. There is something even more lost about his character than Maguire's character. He brings real depth and heart to the role of Gatsby, and you really start to believe that he is this lost soul desperately trying to win back the heart of his loved one that he lost years back.

The love of his life is Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan), Nick's cousin who is married to Tom Buchanan (Edgerton), a man she never really loved. Daisy lives a glamorous life (the complete opposite to her cousin), and when Gatsby discovered this he moves into a house across the way from her to keep a constant watch on Daisy. When Gatsby discovers that Nick is her cousin, he asks him to reunite them and that is when the sparks rush back into their lives.

It is Daisy who i really struggled to care about in the movie. I don't know if it was the script, direction or Mulligan herself who caused this, but I found her totally unrelatable. She plays these two men off of each other and comes across like she almost enjoys torturing Gatsby in his quest for her heart. Like I have already said, I have not read the book so maybe this is the point, but when I am watching what is basically a glamorous love story, surely I should be willing the couple on. Mulligan portrayed the glamorous/old Hollywood side of the character superbly; but unfortunately her heart and grace just fall at the wayside.

Isla Fisher
It could also just be that is how women were back in those days, or that is how they are supposed to come across, because Myrtle Wilson (Fisher) comes across in exactly the same way. She is a drunken floozy who gets barely any screen time. Her story gets built up to, whats supposed to be, a dramatic and heartbreaking crescendo; however because of her awful character development and lack of scenes, I just found her a mild irritant. Also, her story was just a small part of a much larger scale production, and about halfway through the 2 hours 23 minute picture I actually forgot she existed.

The film overall is a stunning spectacle, and if you pause it at anytime you could be looking at a beautifully ornate painting. This I have to commend Luhrmann for, because despite the movies downfalls, at least you can watch it and acknowledge the effort and time that has gone into producing a slick and wonderful looking piece of cinema. The choice of music however I found at times genius, but at other times a complete distraction. Using contemporary artists rather than older music actually worked somehow; that is until they decided to use modern songs, it took me out of the picture and ruined the flow that the movie had picked up.

Overall it is a beautiful piece of film about a group of people lost in the moment, both emotionally and physically, that I do think needs to be seen. Just don't expect to feel any emotion for the romance, drama and heartbreak that the story sets up.

 The Great Gatsby - Trailer