You hear the description ‘visual feast’ too often. Far more often than it actually applies, in fact. But in this case it is accurate. When someone told me that in this film the flappers would be dancing to hip hop and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book would be a distant memory, I wondered whether Baz Luhrman had gone too far.
The answer was no. Moulin Rouge was an exceptional film. Romeo and Juliet was impressive too. The Great Gatsby is a delightful assault on the senses – another phrase that is probably used too frequently but again is accurate here. The critics have been too harsh if you ask me.
First off the book is certainly far more present than I was led to believe. Carraway narrates the story from its enticingly mysterious opening through to the melancholy ending, and much of the story is in place where it should be and is more than recognisable.
The soundtrack contains some modern music, as I was pre-warned, but is also chock full of powerful jazz saxophone and piano melodies that reflect the mood of the scene, and somehow Luhrman manages to make this look perfectly right alongside the luxurious settings and lavish costumes of the 1920s, which feel totally correct in their accuracy.
Besides the amazing visuals, Leonardo DiCaprio craved the most attention, as is fitting for the character, and he looks more comfortable in his own skin these days. His portrayal of Jay Gatsby was exactly what I wanted, and despite the character’s age being lowered for the film, again it worked.
Yes, there are elements of the film that I would have changed, and there was a great deal of creative licence used – necessary in some parts when one remembers the length of the novel and the lack of detail and dialogue surrounding some elements of the story – but I can’t fit the criticism I have read with the film I watched. I loved it and as soon as it finished I was left with the feeling that I wanted to watch it all over again.