Last updated: August 23. 2013 9:47AM - 276 Views

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The story

‚??I‚??m certainly glad to see you again,‚?Ě says Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Daisy‚??s distant cousin and Gatsby‚??s neighbor, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) has, at Gatsby‚??s insistence, invited Daisy for afternoon tea. It‚??s Long Island, summer 1922. Five years earlier, before the U.S. entered World War I, Gatsby and Daisy fell in love. Now, Gatsby‚??s still in love but Daisy‚??s married wealthy Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). That‚??s the setup for this ecstatic, over-the-top film spectacle.

Who is Gatsby? What is his (true) story? How does he get his money? Can he win back Daisy? Will you fall for ‚??Gatsby‚??s‚?Ě visual extravagance? I did.

The actors

Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire are attractive leads and nicely underplay their roles as aloof and mysterious (gangster?) Gatsby, empty-headed socialite Daisy, and semi-detached observer/narrator Nick. Everybody asks: ‚??Who is Gatsby? What does he do?‚?Ě DiCaprio tells different versions of Gatsby‚??s origins. Telling one to Nick, he says, ‚??I didn‚??t want you to think I was just a nobody.‚?Ě But is he? As Daisy, Carey Mulligan is vague and tentative, beaten down by Joel Edgerton‚??s Tom Buchanan, her polo-playing, old-money, bullying husband. ‚??We were born different,‚?Ě Tom says to Gatsby. ‚??It‚??s in our blood.‚?Ě Tobey Maguire is mid-westerner Nick Carraway, who observes, learns everyone‚??s secrets and, in the film‚??s framing device, tells us their ‚?? and his ‚?? stories. Nick has the film‚??s largest part and, at the end, confesses, ‚??I was the only one who cared.‚?Ě The film is finally Nick‚??s story.

Others in the large cast include Elizabeth Debicki as Daisy‚??s hard-partying socialite friend Jordan Baker, Isla Fisher as Tom‚??s married mistress Myrtle Wilson, and Jason Clarke as Myrtle‚??s long-suffering husband, George. Amitabh Bachchan is high-style gambler Meyer Wolfsheim. Mark Lemon is a professor whom Nick meets at one of Gatsby‚??s mega-parties. ‚??What‚??s all this for?‚?Ě Nick asks. ‚??That, my boy, is the question,‚?Ě says the professor. He‚??s right.

Other comments

‚??The Great Gatsby‚?Ě is great film-making, ecstatically visualizing Fitzgerald‚??s classic story ‚?? the appalling excesses and tragic ironies that now define the 1920s, at least in American literature. Director Baz Luhrmann co-wrote the script with Craig Pearce, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald‚??s 1925 novel. The astonishing costumes and film production design are by Catherine Martin, long-time collaborator with Luhrmann. See ‚??Gatsby‚?Ě for its visual pleasures, tragic love story and commentary on the American Dream.

Rated PG-13 for violence, sex, smoking, partying, and language, it runs 143 minutes. I plan to see it again. There‚??s a lot to talk about afterward.

Final words

Yes, it‚??s ‚??The Great Gatsby,‚?Ě

Ecstatic movie-making ‚??

Everything in excess,

Brilliant and heart-breaking.

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