Film review: The Great Gatsby (8 out of 10)

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby

We need to be thankful for directors in the mould of Baz Luhrmann. It would be a dull on-screen world without them.

Luhrmann’s CV is fascinating, with the extreme visual sensation of Moulin Rouge through to the epic Australia.

So many wondered how he would approach this highly-popular American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald - would it be all style over substance?

Well, there’s plenty of the former but thankfully Luhrmann has kept the essence of the book to produce an enjoyable movie.

The story, set a few years after the first world war, centres on Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), an aspiring writer who has moved into the world of finance and is renting a small house at Long Island.

However, his neighbour is the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) who, it turns out, is deeply in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan).

But there is the thorny question of Daisy’s husband Tom (Joel Edgerton), a man who has acquired his millions through old family wealth and is highly critical of the new rich folk.

The film plays out far more like the book, as we see the story unfold through Carraway’s eyes.

It’s a solid meaty role for Maguire in what is for me, his best performance so far.

DiCaprio is excellent in the title role, with the right mix of emotions as we discover the driving force that has enabled him to gain his fortune.

The concept is that this period in history was quite shallow, with masses amounts of money being spent on parties and cars in the post-war boom.

Luhrmann shows this excellently with vivid splashes of colour and party scenes that are more reminiscent of a circus.

As with director Tarantino, Luhrmann is happy to throw in some unusual music into the mix, so we have everything from Gershwin to rap.

The film has been criticised for anachronisms such as phones and cars being in the wrong time period. But I was happy enough to ignore all this, especially as music from JAY Z and Beyonce was going on in the background.

Overall, it’s a great experience and a another good version of an iconic book.

Film details: The Great Gatsby (12A) 142mins

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

Steve Payne