Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

The reviews are mixed on Baz Luhrmann’s take of The Great Gatsby, which opens in theaters today and kicks off the Cannes film festival next week. But while some critics have panned the film, I was LIVING for it the entire time.

In case you never read the book, the story is told by Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) who, while chasing success in the roaring 20s stock market boom, rents a modest cottage on long island only to find that he has moved next door to the home of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), an extravagant mansion that hosts extremely lavish parties.

After being the only one ever personally invited to these parties by Gatsby himself, Carraway soon learns that Gatsby’s long lost love is actually his cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who has since married into the wealthy family of Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) and lives right across the bay from both Carraway and Gatsby. The story centers on Gatsby’s attempt to use Carraway to reclaim his lost love.

While the better part of the cast really fails to capture the audience, it’s no surprise that DiCaprio succeeds in carrying the entire cast all the way through Fitzgerald’s classic tale and Luhrmann’s modern vision of it. He alone manages to give life to the film and electrifies on screen while Mulligan and Maguire fail to engage.

Luhrmann has always had a talent for visuals. If you’ve seen his version of Romeo + Juliet or Moulin Rouge then you’ll know exactly what I mean. In Gatsby his mixing of CGI and real footage appear purposefully unpolished making things pop off the screen and while I’m glad he’s done away with the horrendously choppy music video style editing from Moulin Rouge I am happy to say he hasn’t lost the ability to keep the visuals over the top. In doing so, he manages to hold the audience captive for the entire duration of the film while words and images are literally created right in front of you. Unfortunately, as always, while the 3D adds a certain depth to the scenes, I found it to be totally unnecessary.

As with Moulin Rouge, the Jay Z curated soundtrack really lends itself to the film. It is a blending of genres; new takes on old classics and new songs with a period vibe. Side note: For those of you who are big Moulin Rouge fans, you’ll actually notice quite a few parallels between the two films. I said before in my review that Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” was the centerpiece of the soundtrack; well it’s also the centerpiece of the film, with the melody being used repeatedly throughout with no complaint from me. It’s one of my favorite songs right now.

The Great Gatsby opens everywhere May 10th. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It’s definitely my favorite film of the year so far and I will definitely be seeing it again. The music and visuals alone are worth the price of admission.

Movie Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

  • DouggSeven

    I can’t watch movies with Leonardo DiCaprio. I know he’s a fully grown man but I still see him as an 18 year old and it distracts me with every character he plays. I always see him as the mentally challenged kid in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape too and I guess I just can’t shake it.

  • Matt

    @DouggSeven haha that’s so funny. Or man in the iron mask. Remember that gem?

  • DouggSeven

    “Or man in the iron mask. Remember that gem?

    That one was an auto skip for me – regardless of who was in it. I can’t stand anything related to Medieval times.

  • Josh

    I don’t think he was charismatic enough in the movie to sell it to the audience.

  • Bob

    Very well stated, Matt! It is also my favorite film of the year .. so far.
    Wildly entertaining … it IS a film to be enjoyed again … and again.
    DiCaprio has ‘aged’ into one of our finest actors. He is mesmerizing as Gatsby. Luhrmann delivers an extravagant visual, and audio, feast.