The Great Gatsby (2013)
Dir: Baz Luhrmann
“Is there a book of it? When’s that coming out?” – My friend Annie!
Baz Luhrmann has a beautifully distinctive way of taking period settings and mixing them in with modern music in a pairing that really seems to work when somehow it doesn’t feel like it should.
Based on the classic 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film focuses on young investment bond seller Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) who starts doing very well for himself when he moves to New York and ends up in a small house in a very affluent area. Carraway starts hearing little bits about his mysterious and rarely-seen neighbour Gatsby, but when invited to a lavish party at Gatsby’s, Nick is drawn into his world and realises there may be more linking the two than he knew.
What jumps out very quickly is the use of a modern soundtrack, featuring such artists as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Florence & the Machine and Lana Del Rey. This is especially interesting when it contrasts against archive footage which is used quite sparingly but useful for helping to ground the setting itself in historical reality.
For me the story took a little while to hit the right mood, it wasn’t drawing me in at all for a while, then at tea things come together. It’s a pivotal scene where both the visual style and story seem to blossom (quite literally) and things fall into place bringing out the emotional heart of the narrative.
Saw it in 3D, though really Baz Luhrmann films don’t need 3D, his style is so vibrantly colourful that things stand out anyway. In fact the light loss of the 3D was consciously muting things and I lifted my glasses a few times to compare the bright colours. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again in a few months perhaps, now that I know where the story is going I won’t mind the first little bit so much, and I’d love to be able to fully enjoy the vibrancy of Luhrmann’s beautifully colourful film.