Baz Luhrmann is back and proving yet again that there is no one else like him for pushing the stars of modern cinema to the forefront of blinding lights, musical extravaganzas and glamorous set pieces. Nick Carraway begins our journey as he reflects on the lavish story of Jay Gatsby a man who pulls Nick into a world he'd never imagined he'd ever see. While the ridiculously expensive parties and foaming champagne hide Gatsby away, Nick finds himself slowly accommodating to his new quaint home next to the mysterious billionaire but his life begins to follow en suite when he realizes that everyone in this world is lavish and over the top. From his cousin Daisy, to her polo-famous husband Tom Buchanan and his Mistress to the seductive Jordan Baker, it seems everyone in the world he's adsorbed into is beyond the board and hides the truth behind layers and layers of secrets. The king of secrets arrives however when an invitation arrives from a Jay Gatsby to one of his grand scale parties, the one mystifying factor? No one ever gets invited to his parties. So in a world where everyone has something happening on the side, everyone is out for themselves and having a good time, why is Jay Gatsby the one person who finds a true friend in Nick Carraway. As Nick settles into this life he finds his admiration of Gatsby grow from the portrayal and rumours he's lead to believe from others, to a more deep and grounded view he finds of his new friend and one secret that links Gatsby to Nick's own cousin that's been a much guarded secret for years and may change his own opinions of his spectrum of new friends forever by the time the party finally winds down.
By a mile (Which isn't to say anything bad about the rest of the cast) Leonardo DiCaprio helms the spotlight on himself as Jay Gatsby and he can't help but find himself stealing it's light for the whole show, form the same levels of sheer brilliance that he showed more recently in Django Unchained while still harking back to the romantic from both Romeo + Juliet and Titanic, DiCaprio can still act over the best of them. Even Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway feels a likeable character and played well by a post-spider-man actor who shows, while he may not steal the thunder he still has what it takes to keep the show going and engage the audiences . As beautiful as ever and apparently unable to have a truly bad film under her belt Carey Mulligan takes the role of Daisy Buchanan, balancing seeming innocence, beauty and all rolled up in a self absorbed character who blurs the roles between love and sympathy perfectly.Her upbeat and mischievous husband is played to similar extent if not a little more pantomime villain at times as Joel Edgerton takes his place as Tom Buchanan acting as a nice ying to Gatsby's yang. Elizabeth Debicki also brings some glamour to the film and for a fairly new comer to the bigger pictures she surely shows how she's no amateur in how she handles herself alongside the rest of the cast. Not to be forgotten is the adorable Isla Fisher who appears almost unrecognisable as Buchanna's mistress Myrtle Wilson and her hapless husband played to story breaking potential Jason Clarke as George Wilson.
Baz Lurhman has away of making things rather gaudy, over the top and sparkly. Yet that imaginative turn has made him a stand out name in features like this, Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. While if it's the classic literature angle fans are looking for, it is there just under the more visually geared segments of the film, but for once it's a case where i don't actually mind the fact that a lot of effort was in the visual detail. The motif of the film is what;s hidden beneath the surface when all the luxury and beauty is taken away and i feel that's something which most modern cinema goers will miss. While romance has always been a big lure with Lurhman i find it's also the friendship between Gatsby and Carraway that's endearing, the look into other characters roles in Carraway's own life and the way Gatsby changed his life as well as the world that Gatsby created for himself was changed. It wasn't a film wrapped up in telling the most endearing love story, the most dramatic tale of greatness or even the most musical foot tapping piece Lurhman has directed, Instead Gatsby feels like a quaint yet grand, small yet epic, engaging and even a dash of thought provoking piece of cinema which wasn't out to primarily to make money but tell a story and i find that was the most engrossing element of the film.
8 / 10