The film is about an aspiring writer, Nick Carraway, who finds himself living next door to a man with unimaginable wealth in a house that could be mistaken for a castle. This situation evolves into his meeting with the enigmatic Jay Gatsby and becoming close to him, followed by Nick’s discovery of some very personal things about Gatsby that explain his wealth and his need to manifest social hysteria every weekend at his castle-house as the host of magnificent parties.
With Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role of Gatsby, Luhrmann implemented a huge marketing venture for the film that created high expectations for DiCaprio’s performance. And DiCaprio does not disappoint with a great performance, showing why his horror days in Romeo and Juliet are behind him and executing another performance with the magnitude and brilliance of Blood Diamond and Django Unchained.
The supporting cast are also admirable. Tobey McGuire plays Nick; his performance is conventional and it is unfortunate that the role was not given to an upcoming actor to get his name out in the film world. Still, Maguire performs the role to a satisfactory standard and that has to be commended. However, Carey Mulligan is very good and shows her consistency as a great British actress, building on her two most recent films prior to Gatsby: Shame and Drive. She fits into the narrative as the lost love of Gatsby, who is now married to the wealthy Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Edgerton plays the role very well and displays a ruthless intelligence as a man who understands Gatsby’s intentions and hopes to nullify his presence in Daisy’s life.
Finally, the film has received very much a mixed reception, with many people not liking some of the alterations from the original text. The film is better seen as ‘a’ Great Gatsby, not ‘the’. It is a version of the book and I personally feel Baz Luhrmann has created a very pleasing piece of film.