Certificate 12A, 142 minutes
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire
The Great Gatsby is based on the classic American novel of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is not the first film adaptation of the book; it is in fact the sixth if a loose adaptation is counted. The film is narrated by Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he writes the story down whilst he is in a sanatorium seeking help for his various problems including alcoholism.
A Yale graduate and soldier during the First World War, Carraway moved to New York in 1922 at the height of the Roaring Twenties. This was during the time of Prohibition, when selling, transporting and production of alcohol was made illegal - said law working about as well as could be expected. Carraway, who originally wanted to be a writer, is drawn into by the appeal of the money to be made and works as a bond salesman on Wall Street and lives in a small house in West Egg on Long Island. On the opposite side of the bay in East Egg is a mansion and grounds owned by Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton, Midnight Express) who is married to Nick's cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan, Drive).
The Great Gatsby is available in both 2D and 3D; the 2D was the version watched. It's hard to imagine what 3D could have actually added to the film, as this isn't an action or adventure film but rather a romantic drama. The settings look gloriously sumptuous, and demonstrates the excesses of the wealthy of the period, especially when compared with the dirt of the "valley of ashes" between New York and West Egg where the city dumps its industrial wastes. There is a somewhat odd choice of what sounds like a predominately hip-hop sound track, although this actually tends to work surprisingly well. As befits his character as the narrator of the story, Nick is more an observer of the events than an actual participant in them and even when taking part is also functioning as an observer on another level. As well as being a romantic drama, the film is also to some degree a morality tale regarding the shallowness and decadence of New York society in this period. Despite everything though, The Great Gatsby feels somewhat hollow and doesn't seem to truly capture the novel; it looks great but a lot of the appeal is only skin deep.