Sited by many as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a book that I have never read. As a result this review will be based purely on the Baz Lehrmann film and not informed in any way, shape or form by the source text. Lehrmann is a director who I generally have little time for. His in your face, ultra heightened fantasy style is not normally to my liking but a film set amongst the excess of post war, roaring 20s is the sort of project which may perfectly suit his visual eye. With The Great Gatsby, Lehrmann creates a film which is full of cinematic choices which are both at the same time wrong and fitting and while I don’t necessarily agree with all (or in fact most of his choices), he has created a film which sets itself apart from the competition and is both bold and exciting.
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is a graduate of Yale University who moves to New York’s Long Island, home of the rich and famous, with the hopes of making his fortune in the blossoming stock market on Wall Street, twenty miles to the west. Carraway’s neighbour is an enigmatic figure called Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who few know or have even met, yet a man whose name and lavish parties are known by everyone from Senators to starlets to smugglers. Gatsby befriends his neighbour but remains somewhat aloof until one day when the rich inscrutable Gatsby requests help in setting up a meeting between himself and Carraway’s beautiful but married cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan), a woman not unknown to Gatsby.