I have never been a huge fan of Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. It is a tale filled with unsympathetic and self-absorbed characters that I could never connect to. I have always been a fan of director Baz Lurhman, from his frolicking Strictly Ballroom to his nearly universally panned epic Australia, I enjoy his unique perspective and vision in film.
I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Lurhman's interpretation of The Great Gatsby, but happily I ended up truly enjoying it, despite the completely egomaniacal characters of Fitzgerald's novel. It's a lavish period piece that felt modern and allowed the viewer to feel engulfed in the period while still realizing the same themes exist within our current culture.
Well cast and fairly well acted, with DiCaprio being in my opinion the single weak link (he attempted a very strange and affected accent inconsistently throughout the picture). The real treat in this film is Lurhman's vision of the decadent Jazz Age; from the gorgeous costuming to the sweeping and lavish sets to the over-the-top partying and then scored with popping contemporary hip-hop, rap, pop and jazz (believe it or not, it really works!)
Even if we might have been forced to read the novel in high school, I still don't like to discuss plot in my reviews. As far as I could recall, the film stays fairly close to the book. There are the familiar images of the eyeglass billboard, and the green light at the end of the Buchanan's dock that both figure prominently in the movie. Themes of dishonesty, infidelity, decadence, self-absorption, and cynicism are explored throughout the film. Gatsby is definitely not a feel good novel, nor is it a feel good movie, even with Lurhman at the helm. There is no redemption, except possibly for Nick's character in the movie who finds relief from his exhaustion and depression through his telling of the tale.
Because of intense scenes depicting the prevalent immorality of the day, I would recommend this film for adults only. The USCCB rating for The Great Gatsby is an AIII (adults only).