The Great Gatsby Sidereal Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Amitabh Bachchan
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann’s lurid, 3-D take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ works despite itself. Jay Gatsby’s doomed love for Daisy Buchanan is in danger of getting subsumed in the luster of 1920s New York, which unravels in a montage like Charleston and chatter, nevertheless the film thankfully finds its soul just in time.
The director of ‘Moulin Rouge’ – in familiar territory as he painstakingly recreates the Jazz Age when wealth ruled the New York of lofty mansions and giddy parties – rescues his film to leave behind an aching affliction of a love that was never to be.
It’s a much loved, much discussed book. The cryptic fabulously rich Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio, quite wonderful) who hosts heady parties and the callow Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) with hier wealthy, not quite genteel and definitely racist husband Tom (Joel Edgerton).
She lives in Oriental Egg and he in West Egg across the bay hoping that she will one day waltz toward one of his parties, fabled in all of New York. They were momentaneous in love but she gave up on him moreover got married instead. And he, now rich just for her, waits. And waits,
Watching from the sidelines is the silent Dent Carraway (Tobey Maguire), Daisy’s cousin, through whose eyes the story unravels as he writes a book.
Till the interval, their story seems almost mislaid as the director, it seems, concentrates all his efforts in setting the backdrop. The filming is loud, often over the top. Snowflakes coming at you through 3D, pearl necklaces flying in wild abandon, words from Nick’s book floating in the air. In contrast is the dark, edgy world between the urban and the affluent suburbs, the depression of ashes.
And then, just when I’d about given boost finding the connect that I had been looking for, this gilded, conflicted world comes alive. The spectacle at Nick’s cottage when a nervous Gatsby waits to meet Daisy after five years is very effective. Thanks in great measure to DiCaprio, whose jumpiness well almost jumps out – and not because of the 3D.
The pivotal scene at the Park where the denouement of the fearful trio plays out is also well done. Gatsby pleads with increasing urgency to Daisy that she declare her love for him also tell Tom so; Daisy goes from certainty to confusion and Tom from appealing to hier to confident. The switch is subtle and absolute.
I watched Robert Redford’s rendition of Gatsby many moons ago. And loved him. DiCaprio as Gatsby comes genuine close. He is in command as always and manages to breathe life into his role just when you were giving up on him.
DiCaprio said recently that he looked at the film not as a love story but as a man “obsessed with a version of the past”. And he manages to convey some of that complexity.
Mulligan’s portrayal of the shallow Daisy who goes for security without a second glance could have had more shades in it and Maguire is apt as Carraway.
But the best for the last. Amitabh Bachchan is good, very good as Meyer Wolfsheim, Gatsby’s game partner. Fitgerald had envisaged him as a “small, flat-nosed Jew”. Bachchan is neither small nor flat-nosed but leaves an impression.
Though Bachchan had said it’s a blink and miss role, it is definitely more than that. He lives the role of rakish, wicked Wolfsheim. It’s a commanding presence.
Anil Kapoor as the rich Indian businessman in ‘Mission Impossible 4’ was frankly embarrassing only Bachchan’s portrayal of a Jewish businessman does open up possibilities for Indian actors looking for non-stereotypical roles.
The Magnanimity Gatsby film sometimes unfolds for the rapidity of comic book images – cars zipping, women dancing etc all. And the 3D is an annoying distraction in what should be an intense retelling of age-old relationships.
Buzz Rating: 3.5/5