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Would-be writer Nick Carroway (Maguire) arrives in New York in the spring of 1922. It’s a time of loose morals, the Jazz Age, bootleg booze and everyone is living life high on the hog. Well, the rich and glamorous are.
Nick rents a place next door to the Long Island mansion owned by the mysterious and phenomenally rich party-giving Jay Gatsby. Nick’s second cousin Daisy (Mulligan) lives nearby with her philandering husband Tom Buchanan. Gatsby used to be in love with Daisy who chose the wealthy Buchanan instead of him but now he is determined to make her his prize.
F Scott Fitzgerald’s famous literary work is seen to be a poetic and ultimately pessimistic comment on the American Dream and resonates today with audiences who are all too often caught up in the glamour of shallow celebrity and reality TV.
Two previous attempts by Hollywood to film this classic novel have crashed and burned.
Few remember the 1949 Alan Ladd version and the 1974 movie with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow was seen as plush with lavish production values but regarded as a failure.
Well, the words plush and lavish go hand in hand with Luhrmann – so think Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet with their music video style colour, light and noise and don’t go expecting a literary adaptation.
The film opened the Cannes film festival and has split the critics. But no-one is denying that it is a visual feast and gloriously sumptuous, if a little overlong, and DiCaprio gives one of his best performances. The purists may feel that this much-loved novel remains unfilmable – but Luhrmann fans will not be disappointed.