F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic “The Great Gatsby” has made its way back to the silver screen. In the most recent adaptation, prepare to be awed.
We are first introduced to Nick Callaway in a therapy session, recounting his time with Gatsby, the film set as a flashback. From here we also meet the flighty daisy, Nick’s cousin, and her wandering husband Tom, but Jay Gatsby is the character that eludes audiences. When he is finally introduced, it is to a backdrop of a wild party that makes one wistful to be a part of the madness.
After the crazy party, the film becomes one of star crossed lovers, as star Leonardo DiCaprio and director Baz Luhrmann, who also made “Romeo and Juliet” together, seem fond of. As Gatsby and Daisy carry on an illicit affair, and Nick helps to hide it from Tom, suspicions grow and the tension eventually reaches a tipping point of rage, murder and cover-ups.
In this adaptation, the plotline seems to take backseat to the spectacle created around it. As 1920’s cars roar across the screen, and flappers dance wildly in sparkling dresses, the audience is drawn into the frantic atmosphere.
To address literary faithfulness, deviations are made for the sake of conciseness, but the overall arching plotline is there in droves in this two hour film.
Luhrmann made this movie for 3D. Shots of the film zoom around, suddenly stop and confetti flies, and that is just in the 2D version. The film is bright and crazy, and even with the one less dimension, the feeling of depth of picture and before the screen effects is just barely out of reach.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan give the star performances as the lovers Daisy and Gatsby. Supported by equally mesmerizing actors like Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton and Isla Fisher, the pair sparkle and bemoan their fates as they attempt to change them.
Accompanying all the spectacle is a soundtrack that is one of the best in years. Executive produced by Jay-Z, who also performs, it features other artists like Beyoncé, Andre 3000, Will.I.Am, Fergi, Gotye and Florence and the Machine. The songs blend modern tones with vintage ones, as orchestral pieces meet synthesizers and rap lyrics.
The movie is bright and exciting, and ultimately serves to tell the rather depressing story with a light heart. It ends on a potentially happy note, depending on your point of view.
“The Great Gatsby” is rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language. If it weren’t preceded by “Iron Man 3,” I would give it the distinction of the best movie of 2013 so far, and one of the safer choices for families looking to take their older children to a movie this summer.