warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

'Gatsby' Glitters Despite Bad Press

Sarah Mickelson |
May 12, 2013 | 4:30 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan breathe life into F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic characters. (Ma_Co2013/Flickr)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan breathe life into F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic characters. (Ma_Co2013/Flickr)
"The Great Gatsby" tells the story of Nick Carroway (Tobey Maguire), a WWI veteran who moves into a Long Island house situated next to the mysterious millionare Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Intrigued by Gatsby's elaborate parties and lavish lifestyle, Nick befriends Gatsby and discovers the truth about Gatsby's unabating love for Nick's cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). But don't be fooled by the love story and twenties glamour, this is a tragedy at heart. 

There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of "The Great Gatsby." Luhrmann’s polarizing cinematic style, a movie soundtrack featuring Jay-Z, and the fact that the release date was moved from Christmas 2012 to early Summer 2013 made everyone question whether this saga needed to be brought to the silver screen for a sixth time.

I'm here to quell those fears and tell you why this is the best version yet.

This cast has chemistry. Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, and Leonardo DiCaprio breathe life into the F. Scott Fitzgerald characters we first met in our high school English classes. DiCaprio and Mulligan’s ill-fated love is especially captivating; this pair has quite the onscreen presence. DiCaprio brilliantly captures Gatsby’s relentless desire for Mulligan’s Daisy, who is subtly seductive yet unyielding.

As someone who has seen several of the previous five Gatsby movies, Luhrmann’s interpretation provides the most realistic portrayal of them all. And not only are the character’s true to the book, the plot remains virtually unchanged.

Another notable aspect of the film is the music. When we first heard Jay-Z was producing the movie’s soundtrack, Hollywood started to question whether such a modern hip-hop star would ruin such a classic tale. As it turns out, the music is the cherry on top of a visual feast for the eyes.

Featuring new songs and covers from the likes of Florence & The Machine, The xx, Beyonce, and Lana Del Rey among many others, the soundtrack is a stand-alone masterpiece. Each song provides understated depth to scenes which may otherwise seem lighthearted; it adds to the movie's overall theme of the contrast between what's on the surface and what lies beneath it.

The various scenes dripping with wealth and excess do get somewhat overwhelming towards the end of the film, but they accurately highlight the glitz of the roaring twenties in which the movie is set. And who better to make a movie that highlights the ostentatious nature of that era than Hollywood’s most avant-garde director. The movie is even shown in 3D which seems the final reminder of the film's showy nature. 

Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" opened this Friday. See the trailer below.

Reach reporter Sarah Mickelson here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.