I didn't expect to like THE GREAT GATSBY because I've read so much negative press about the razzle dazzle treatment given to the movie by Australian director Baz Luhrmann. But his movie really does capture the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald's wistful, tragic novel.
Just as in the novel, Gatsby's story is told by Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, a young man just starting out in 1920's New York. Most of the voice overs are right from the book: "Gatsby; he had a grand vision for his life since he was a boy. No amount of fire could challenge the fairy tale he had stored up in his heart."
When Nick first meets Jay Gatsby (played by DiCaprio), Gatsby is his wealthy (but once poor) next door neighbor who throws lavish parties every weekend at his long island mansion.
But who is he really and why does he seldom appear at his own parties?
Various people at one of the parties: "He was a German spy during the war." "No, no, no, he was the Kaiser's assassin." "I heard he killed a man once." "It's true. He kills for fun, free of charge." "He's certainly richer than God."
What we and Nick eventually learn is that Gatsby is a man obsessed with winning back the woman he loved five years before: Nick's cousin, Daisy, (played by
Carey Mulligan), a woman who's now married to a rich sportsman played by Joel Edgerton.
When Daisy, who lives across the bay from Gatsby, doesn't show up at any of his parties, he convinces Nick to invite her to tea so that he can drop by and meet her again. They are both unnerved to see each other again, but it's not long before they get comfortable.
And since Daisy's husband has affairs and she knows it, she and Gatsby become intimate again.
But there's much more going on than is apparent. Gatsby is not the dashing adventurer he presents himself to be, and Daisy is not nearly the ideal woman he envisions.
Nick tries to reason with Gatsby about his effort to recapture what he once shared with Daisy.
"You can't repeat the past, " he tells Gatsby.
"You can't repeat the past?" says Gatsby. "Of course, you can.
DiCaprio's charismatic performance really captures the essence of Jay Gatsby, a flawed man and ever hopeful dreamer.
And through his story this fine movie reminds us of our deepest longings.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.