I'm a sucker for opulent, over the top cinematography, and Baz Luhrmann never lets me down. While I'm yet to read The Great Gatsby (I'm going to, it's in my bag, I promise!), the latest film incarnation had me completely transfixed - so much so that I saw it twice in two days, and would happily see it again. There was no way that I couldn't include a tonne of pictures in this post, so I've placed it under a cut to make loading times speedier, make sure you click through and take it all in!
(Be warned: this post may contain spoilers, so if you're intent on seeing the film before you read or see anything about it, don't click read more!)
The sets were nothing short of fantastical. While visual effects were very heavily employed, they were executed perfectly. There are so many tiny details that you absolutely have to see Gatsby more than once, because there's no way that you can absorb them all in one viewing. From the art deco features in Gatsby's lavish mansion and the grandeur of the Buchanan's residence, right down to the icing on the cakes at tea in Nick's cottage, there's so much eye candy that it's hard to keep up at times. My personal favourite would have to be the billboards and the blinding lights of 1920's New York City.
The costumes absolutely blew my mind; based on pieces from the Prada and Miu Miu archives, Catherine Martin did an amazing job of not only capturing the decadent spirit of the roaring twenties, but made the outfits believable by having each of the main characters distinct personalities shine through their costuming. While I've always preferred the full skirts of the 50's to the slimline silhouettes of the 20's, the sheer details in the outfits - the accessories are just exquisite.
|Toby Maguire as Nick Carraway|
|Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker|
|Leonardo Dicaprio as Jay Gatsby|
|Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan|
As for the acting, I'm not sure where to start. Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of the eccentric millionaire, Jay Gatsby, was engaging and thought provoking. Gatsby is quite a long film and I have a tendency to get bored in long movies (The Hobbit, anyone?) but DiCaprio's performance kept me riveted for the entire length of the movie. I'd heard some criticism about Toby Maguire not being right for the role of Nick Carraway, and it might be because I wasn't familiar with the story before seeing the film, but I thought that Maguire's performance was brilliant. He was eloquent, well mannered, and naive, without being a complete pushover. Carey Mulligan's breathy portrayal of Daisy Buchanan was enchanting and enraging at the same time, she was the perfect example of a careless rich girl who was born into a life where everything was handed to her, and all of her mistakes were cleaned up by other people. I also loved Australian newcomer, Elizabeth Debicki, as golfer Jordan Baker - while I think she could have done with more screen time, the times when she was present she commanded the audiences attention in both an intimidating and endearing way.
I think what really won me over the most about The Great Gatsby was definitely the music. Featuring covers of modern ditties such as Amy Winehouse's Back to Black and Beyonce's Crazy in Love, as well as original singles penned especially for the film contributed by Lana Del Rey and Florence + The Machine, the Gatsby soundtrack is reflective and sombre. Different versions of Del Rey's single, Young and Beautiful, feature throughout the movie and each version made my eyes swim. I've heard criticism of the use of rap music throughout the film, but I absolutely loved it. I'm a huge Jay Z fan (would you have picked it?), and seeing as he serves as an executive producer I think I was destined to love this movie, I really enjoyed the coupling of the modern rap tracks from Jay Z and Kanye West's collaboration album, Watch The Throne, and Luhrmann's elaborate, roaring 20's visuals - which, surprisingly, fit together perfectly.
Without giving too much away, Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby has my vote for movie of the year. It's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and it can be quite dark at times, but if you give it the opportunity to do so it will make you think about your own relationships with the people around you, and examine just how fulfilling (or empty) they really are.
'Til next time