The Great Gatsby Directed by: Baz Luhrmann Written by: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce (screenplay), F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel) Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgarton
Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is a rollicking, cinematically frenzied and inconsistent take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel. It is pop art done in the most extreme way, using what it likes from the source material’s Roaring Twenties setting and glossing over the rest with Lana Del Ray and Beyonce. This is why as an adaptation of what many consider to be “The Great American Novel” it fails miserably, but as a movie it is far from miserable.
Fitzgerald’s novel is not a work of maximalism like this movie is. It is the story of parties ending, and of dreams and identities being born, shifting and dying. Luhrmann may have many of the more beautiful passages flash on the screen in fancy font as Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) narrates, but he is clearly more in tune with the party than the language or the themes of the source material.
Few actresses have matched Nicole Kidman’s hot streak in the early 2000s. Not that she set the box office on fire, more our imaginations. People watch this accidental movie star fully embody a variety of characters with not only ease, but technical perfection. She is a consummate professional when it comes to characterization and the emotional control she displays over her characters. This perfection draws the audience to her even when she shares the screen with others more famous. Although now she is a household name, that is only because she snatched it away from those who couldn’t hold onto audiences quite like her.