For the sixth time "The Great Gatsby" has been adapted for film. And when Baz Luhrmann directs, you know you're in for sensual overdrive. Upping the ante, he shoots in 3D and the result is grandiosely intoxicating.
Described as the "great American novel," "The Great Gatsby" is a literary masterpiece. In short, it's the story of a mysterious man who re-invents himself in order to win back the woman he deeply loves. The narrator, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) describes Gatsby as "the single most hopeful person I've ever met."
Gatsby's (the deliciously debonair Leonardo DiCaprio) delusional quest to recapture the now married Daisy Buchanan's (the quietly alluring Carey Mulligan) affection is thawarted by not fully comprehending the unwritten law that "rich girls don't marry poor boys." By falsifying his past and amassing a huge fortune over the past five years, Gatsby firmly believes he will obtain that which he covets.
Gatsby throws extravagant parties hoping to lure Daisy to his opulent home, but it's a surprise afternoon tea invitation at Nick's house on the perimeter of Gatsby's estate which sets the stage for their reuniting. There, their love for one another is reignited, but ultimately, doomed to failure.
Luhrmann and co-writer Guy Pearce stick pretty close to the 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. And even though the wealth gap back in 1922 (the year in which the story takes place) was much smaller than today, the empty pursuit of status remains at the core of the narrative. But Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge!") cannot resist to razzle-dazzle as no one else can with over-the-top choreographed visuals that are thrilling to behold. It was a genius decision to employ 3D.
Luhrmann's wife, Catherine Martin, is responsible for the incredible costume and production design which is so central to the film's feel and how it looks. Her attention to detail is so meticulous it's amazing. Luhrmann's surprise scoring also shakes up the mood. George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Louis Armstrong tunes would have been expected in a Jazz-era piece but marrying them with the likes of Jay Z, Kanye West and Beyoncé — sheer brilliance.
Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" is the best adaptation yet, a tour de force. In an audacious endeavor he has managed to capture the essence of Fitzgerald's writing while pairing it with an aesthetically astounding piece of filmmaking. He proves Nick Carraway's belief that "one cannot repeat the past" by making it even better.
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