Movie Moment: The Great Gatsby

Ah, let the film adaptions commence! I’ve actually been waiting for this film for about two years now, but I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it, until the preview dropped late 2012. And if it’s at all indicative of what’s in store for this step into F. Scott’s American Dream, well, we are definitely in for a wild ride. For it’s unabashedly a Luhrmann film, decked in an audacious palette, reminiscent of the hip shaking, joint jumping, money flashing, American Jazz Age.

**This poster is the bees knees kids! For nothing can top the original book cover, with metaphorical confusion, so why not transpose it literally? Love.

The Great Gatsby is the tale of man who reinvents his life for the love and recognition of a woman—the feature film adaptation of the book by famed novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. Considered his most popular and widely read work, Fitzgerald’s third publication, takes place during the US economic and cultural boom of the 1920’s.

*Official Synopsis: “The Great Gatsby” follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super-rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Macguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fischer, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan

To be honest, I was fairly put out when DiCaprio was cast as Nick’s suave and mysterious new neighbor Jay Gatsby. Perhaps it’s my inability to love the guy, no matter how undeniably excellent he is at his craft or the fact he’s no Robert Redford or the Gatsby of my dreams– but either way, my knee jerk reaction was massive disappointment. However, with further thought, I couldn’t deny that this is one of the most versatile actors of his generation, not to mention his own brand of chameleon. I don’t believe that DiCaprio has a classic look about him, nor is he the attractive sort, but in the movie stills, he’s nothing short of striking. He definitely channels for Gatsby, what Toby Stephens was able to embody, back in A&E’s 2000 miniseries; dapper and handsome and almost sexy, with hints of unraveling perfection.

Tobey Macguire (Spider-man trilogy, Brothers) is what I would call “dream casting.” For, he is the epitome of the doe-eyed, star struck innocence, Nick Carraway becomes the moment he meets Gatsby, but beneath that cute, pliable exterior there’s a sneaky stealthiness to what Macguire can deliver, that hits Carraway’s jaded underbelly squarely on the nose.

Incidentally, however, I have an acute allergy to Carey Mulligan (Pride and Prejudice, An Education). To me, she seems to create more caricatures than characters and tells me what I ought to think and feel, rather than embody it. [And she has a Romola Garai stench about her that scurries my skin.] Therefore, I have mixed feelings toward her casting, for I believe Daisy Buchanan can be interpreted as a hollow, vapid mess or with wells of depth. Unfortunately, Mulligan has also signed up for one of the least likable characters in the entire novel, which will most certainly keep my eyebrows furrowed.

Australian actor, Joel Edgerton (Star Wars Episode III, Zero Dark Thirty) rounds out this trio, as arguably the most sanely rational character in the bunch as Tom Buchanan (though I’m not sure that’s saying much). My Edgerton exposure is embarrassingly limited, with only hearing about his award winning portrayal in the Australian serial The Secret Life of Us.

Amitabh Bachchan (Sholay, Paa) was the largest surprise and the greatest reward as Meyer Wolfsheim, for he’s an actor that has an aura that beckons all to stop and take notice. He’s the oldest and most famous of this lot but continues to be daring is his projects as an actor, which I can only continue to respect. Over the last decade he has moved into “character” actor territory in such a seamless fashion, it’s no wonder he’s an internationally beloved star.

gatsbybookNovel: This book has remained in my young adult obsessions Top5 list since I read it double digits ago. There’s still nothing like this story and F. Scott’s masterful telling, for I believe his toying with reader manipulation through his unreliable narrator is absolutely perfect, if not coolly genius. Therefore, if you haven’t the slightest knowledge of this sucker, check it out— skim it, listen, read or own but get it!


The Great Gatsby opens this Friday, May 10.

[stills and *synopsis courtesy of Warner Bros.]

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