The most important thing in my opinion about this adaptation was that the story wasn’t lost. In the same way as Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge there was a great story that led the action, and predominantly a love story with a man who is not afraid to express his emotions. F. Scott Fitzgerald has a poetic lilt to his language and this also came through in the film.
Of course Luhrmann brought the glitz and glamour of the 1920’s with both the majestic countryside mansions in the Hamptons to cosmopolitan city. With the grit of the prohibition bars hidden behind a barbers. For those who have seen the Luhrmann films mentioned above there was definitely a theme emerging, and it felt a little like he hadn’t learnt anything new since the release of Moulin Rouge in 2001.
There was some clever modernising, such as songs from today rearranged in a style to make them sound at first like songs from the 20’s. It is only recognising lyrics that will make the viewer realise that they are not all original songs. The most well-known is ‘New York’ by Alicia Keys, which for me was a step too far.
There was some dancing that I think might have been too raunchy and I also felt that Carey Mulligan played Daisy as a little too delicate. It was hard to imagine what Gatsby saw in her. Joel Edgerton however was cast perfectly in his role as Tom Buchanan, he was sweaty and disgusting at times, but offered a safety that you could see Daisy would be stupid to throw away.
Although Leonardo Di Caprio didn’t play the Gatsby I had in my mind, he did create an interesting and complex character who drew great sympathy, and whose passion and determination were to be admired.
The beauty of how the story unfolds is that it makes important choices seem too big, and life seem so fragile. Especially during those times, and for a woman. Still making the events and emotions seem relevant to now, and highlighting how far we have come and what we can learn. As well as showcasing the splendor and elegance of the period.