528276_571643262866558_174665140_nSo Part 3 of my Gatsby weekend (parts 1 and 2 are covered over on Bride of the Book God) was heading off to see the Baz Luhrman version of The Great Gatsby starring amongst others Leonardo DiCaprio. Before I get on to talking about the film, don’t you just love how IMDB describes the movie?

A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbour.

Not how I would have put it myself.

Anyway, Sunday evening, settled in our seats at our local Odeon, looking forward to what I hoped was going to be a real spectacle. I was going into this with an open mind (I hoped) because I have not yet been able to sit through a whole Luhrman film, not even Romeo+Juliet which you would have thought I would have enjoyed, but there you go.

And for the first 20 or 30 minutes I really thought I was going to hate this film. I disliked the entirely unnecessary framing device, I though Tobey Maguire was all wrong as Nick and overacting as if his life depended on it. I didn’t mind the music and I thought the sets and costumes and all that jazz (forgive the pun) were fantastic. But it wasn’t doing anything for me at all.

Until Mr DiCaprio appeared.

Now I’m sure I’ve said elsewhere that I didn’t really rate Leo until Gangs of New York but since then he has become one of my ones to watch and I always consider going to see his films even if the subject matter doesn’t interest me. And I wasn’t sure about him as Gatsby given that my image of the character has a solid foundation in once Robert Redford from 1974. But I have to say that it was Leo that saved this film for me, his glorious smile and the fact that in the great argument scene in the hotel he really did look like he could kill a man (spoiled rather (as others have mentioned) by Tobey telling us just that in the voiceover). he was entirely believable and I sighed with relief at that point; whatever else happened I had Leo to watch.

In terms of the rest of the film, I’ve dealt with Tobey (who actually got better as the film went on) and the look and feel, but worth noting:

  • Carey Mulligan looked fabulous but Daisy is always a character I’ve had huge problems with
  • as is traditional in movie versions, Jordan is a brunette when the book clearly states she’s a blonde and I have no idea why that bothers me so much but it does
  • Tom was just too obviously loud and shouty and bullying
  • I thought Jason Clarke was an excellent George, a wonderful air of queasy impotence but Isla Fisher was totally miscast as Myrtle – I’ve always seen her as an older, voluptuous, blousy woman; poor Isla looked like she was dressing up in her Mum’s clothes though her performance was fine apart from that.

So all in all it was OK. I think I just don’t like Baz ‘s style and that will always be a barrier. But if it gets more people going back to the book then that’s a good thing.