June 14 • 142 mins • Drama • Director: Baz Lurhmann Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire
It’s a book many said could never be brought to the silver screen, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood profiting from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby, time and time again. Although Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation is one of the most anticipated films of 2013, it is in fact the 5th cinematic release of the novel, the first harking back to 1926. There have also been a number of television movies, and even an operatic take on the narrative that graced the boards in 1999.
Set in the summer of 1922, the story is narrated by World War I veteran turned New York-based bonds salesman, Nick Carraway (Maguire). Written in 1925, the original story was set during an extravagant decade during which an economic crash seemed as likely as an alien invasion. With themes of lavishness and opulence, eccentric wealth is personified by the dashing Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio), who has a passion for parties and beautiful women, namely the stunning Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan).
With the book unknowingly set before the great depression, the film has the potential to hold up a harsh looking glass to our own current dire economy and the elaborate consumerism that drove it into the dirt. Instead (and perhaps rightly so), the film concentrates on the razzle-dazzle of the book, with DiCaprio swaggering perfectly in the shoes of Gatsby, swigging champagne and charming everyone on and off screen. Maguire may seem like a strange choice for Carraway, but he holds his own as the intrepid narrator, but with such an amazing supporting cast, he is just another cog in the machine.
The machine does run smoothly, however, with the two-hour-plus running-time flying by. The film appeases bookworms to a degree, but it has its sights set on a wider audience, many of whom may not have heard of the book, let alone read it. In short, like the vast majority of book-to-screen adaptations, Lurhmann’s latest offering is a watered down version of the original. But for a cinematic medium, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Don’t forget you can find a list of local cinemas (and what’s playing) online at: www.kansaiscene.com/cinemas/