Baz puts style ahead of sub­stance

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch

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

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