There is no doubt that this 5th film version of “The Great Gatsby” is the most opulent, bombastic, miscast, over produced, classless, over the top, longest production of them all though I have only seen 4 of them--supposedly the 1926 version with William Powell has been lost.
No matter what the scene, the director/co-writer adds more: more rain, more fireworks, more gardens, more flappers, more colors, more twisting of F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote the classic book. Gatsby doesn’t throw one silk shirt over the railing to his love Daisy but enough to make a pile for her to lay and stretch out on.
Carey Mulligan, as Daisy, is too pale, too wan and lacks the personality to have two men in love with her. Leonardo DiCaprio, as Gatsby, has no chemistry with Mulligan and has only a few, very few, moments, to bring forth the good actor he can be and his accent is too obviously an accent. Not for a moment do you Gatsby loves Daisy but Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s husband, is one of the few convincingly ‘old money’ characters and one who, though he cheats, loves Daisy. Isla Fisher, as Tom’s mistress, and Jason Clarke as her husband perform effective roles in a subplot. Elizabeth Debicki, as Jordan, presents the flapper of the 20s with and without morals. Last, but not least, Tobey Maguire, as Nick Carraway, supposedly representing the author Ftizgerald fails in that role as well as the narrator and observer of all that goes on.
The costumes and production by Catherine Martin evoke a 21st century of what the art decco of the 1920s looked like. The screenplay by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, though using a lot of Mr. Fitzgerald’s words from his novel, does not convey the themes of his book.
“The Great Gatsby” is a great book that has been in the public’s eye for close to 90 years but that a movie version isn’t capable of capturing what makes it a classic and, in fact, with all of Luhrmann’s razzamatazz makes it a boring and long film of 2 hours and 23 minutes. Do yourself a favor and read the book.