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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » May 28, 2013
Film review
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The Great Gatsby
May 28, 2013   
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Ever since Australia’s Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, Romeo+Juliet, Strictly Ballroom) first ventured into the filmmaking industry, his movies have invariably been described as “lavish,” “stunning” and “spectacular.” Such is also his latest offering, The Great Gatsby, based on the famous novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Luhrmann, 51, was only 12 when the world marveled at The Great Gatsby (1974) directed by Jack Clayton, with the script by Francis Ford Coppola. Almost four decades later, Luhrmann came up with an idea for a remake and with remarkable ease persuaded the producers to fork out around $105 million. The effort has clearly paid off, as the new version raked in $50 million at the box office on the opening weekend and started bringing profits to the producers just a week later.

As usual with Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby has left audiences and critics polarized. Some are raving about the movie, calling it a visual extravaganza (especially the 3D version), while others are tearing it to shreds and dismissing it as the worst movie of the year.

Many have also been pointing out the film’s goofs and anachronisms. For example, even though the plot is set in 1922, several New York landmark buildings appear that were not built until several years later.

The role of Gatsby is played by Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Inception, The Departed), an actor who is almost as controversial as Luhrmann himself—adored and mocked at the same time. But those who follow his career closely enough will notice that DiCaprio, now nearing 40, has managed to shake off the image of a boyish heartthrob and taken a succession of roles as complex and multi-faceted characters. The role of Jay Gatsby seemed a perfect choice and DiCaprio has lived up to expectations. His performance has even won him praise from Robert Redford, who played Gatsby in the 1974 movie. DiCaprio’s character can instantly turn from a romantic lover to a manipulative cynic, and he is also capable of transforming himself from a celebrity surrounded by glitz and glamour—a nouveau riche who dazzles the neighborhood with his wealth—into a frightened kid. Played by DiCaprio, Gatsby is a compelling and complicated character.

DiCaprio shines whenever he appears on the screen and steals the show from the other characters. But The Great Gatsby is not a one-man show. We get solid performances from Carey Mulligan (An Education, Drive) as Gatsby’s sweetheart Daisy Buchanan, Joel Edgerton (Warrior, King Arthur) as her husband Tom, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. It has been a while since Maguire’s last major role, but he comes out well as the narrator in the film: a young man from the provinces who settles in Long Island amid the rich and the glamorous.

In a nod to Bollywood, Luhrmann cast top Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan in the role of crook Meyer Wolfsheim. This is the first ever English-language role for the 71-year-old Bollywood megastar.
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