At some point in your high school career, you were probably forced to read the Great Gatsby. If not, you probably scraped your way through the test with the help of Spark Notes or a friend’s scrambled summary given to you in the hall five minutes before class started. But even if you never actually read Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel, Baz Luhrmann’s modern twist on a classroom classic is well cast and scored as well as visually appealing.
The film’s cast includes DiCaprio as Gatsby himself, who never disappoints eager audiences of followers. DiCaprio brilliantly portrays Gatsby as a man so in love that he becomes lost and angry in a sea of brilliant characters whom he has invited to celebrate his sadness. The spirit of the roaring twenties is captured with all the thrills of a twenty-first century house rave, popular EDM and all.
The film’s soundtrack alone could sell its brilliance, with jazz and swing thrown into pop hits like Beyonce’s Crazy In Love. Mixed in with rising stars such as Lana Del Rey, whose Young and Beautiful is heard throughout the film in different versions and plot points, its score is sure to be stuck in your head for days after the leaving the theatre.
Although some of the director’s touches, such as text scrolling across the screen and over-the-top visual cues may be considered cheesy or in poor taste by some, they add to the film’s storybook feel. What Gatsby lacks in these areas is made up for in the absolute visual assault that is Gatsby’s house at night. A menagerie of entertainment and brilliant costume design makes you wish you’d been born a few decades earlier, or at least that you had a next door neighbor who knew how to party like it was 1923.
To an older audience who believes in sticking to the script, Gatsby may appear overly modernized. However, if you look at Luhrmann’s twist in the same light he did, it is clear that the film’s wild eloquence is stemmed from the ability of today’s tech-savvy generations to be able to picture themselves living Carraway’s story as though it was happening in the present.
Despite all the changes, the film sticks closely to the book’s plot.
I recommend seeing Gatsby with an open mind, though reading the book first may help one appreciate its true art. If you picture yourself alongside Daisy and Nick today, the film will leave behind the taste of a tragically beautiful fairytale.