Baz puts style ahead of substance
THE GREAT GATSBY ( M) Director : Baz Luhrmann ( Moulin Rouge) Starring : Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton.
AUSTRALIAN filmmaker Baz Luhrmann ( Moulin Rouge) takes the collective substance of the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, lines it up against a wall, and machine- guns it with all the glitzy style he can muster.
Though defi nitely a hit- and- miss proposition, you will not be bored for a millisecond by what transpires.
If you do not know the story of The Great Gatsby, you will not be at a marked disadvantage when taking in this lavishly lightweight movie adaptation.
All that’s really required is a passing knowledge of what passed for a high old time at the height of the jazz age.
It’s the 1920s. That stock market crash and the subsequent Great Depression thing are still a long way away. New York City is the only place is to be.
The joint is jumping. Everywhere you look, it’s fast cars, new money, easy virtues and hard partying.
At the eye of this perfect storm of good times and bad behaviour stands a man who appears to indulge in neither.
His name is Jay Gatsby ( Leonardo DiCaprio). As mysterious as he is notorious, Gatsby is a tycoon whose mansion hosts the wildest shindigs in town. Yet he is rarely seen mingling with his guests.
The man clearly has money to burn, but no one in New York knows where he or that mega- fortune came from.
As the story unfolds, the magnifi cent enigma that is Jay Gatsby will crumble and disappear before us.
The narrator of the tale, wide- eyed young Wall Streeter Nick Carraway ( Tobey Maguire), will be present to chronicle each phase of the downfall.
The very glamourous ( and very married) socialite Daisy Buchanan ( Carey Mulligan) triggers the downward spiral of Gatsby.
The pair knew each other before he made his cash and before she accepted the lucrative proposal of a philandering establishment type named Tom ( Joel Edgerton).
As director, Baz Luhrmann is clearly more excited by the frenetic initial scene- setting of The Great Gatsby than the sobering morality tale he will be ultimately obliged to tell.
In the first half of the movie, the sheer Baz- ness on display is something to behold. The party sequences at the Gatsby abode are at once spectacular, tacky and utterly irresistible.
Some sections play out as if there has been multiple explosions inside a warehouse storing nothing but confetti bombs, neon lights and fireworks.
The intuitive efforts of a wellchosen cast hold the key to the relative success of The Great Gatsby. No matter how grandiose or even cartoonish the circumstances become, the core trio of DiCaprio, Mulligan and Maguire keep proceedings grounded by applying a sincere emotional gravity to their work.
In a relatively thankless part, Edgerton is a revelation, contributing a performance that will surely open the door to better things to come in Hollywood.
Now showing at the Village and State cinemas