‘The Great Gatsby’
PG-13, 142 minutes
By CHRISTOPHER LLOYD
Previous film adaptations of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel have been largely passionless affairs, pretty pictures with handsome people, behaving badly bloodlessly. Whatever one thinks of director Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”), his films throb with energy and urgency, and his take on “The Great Gatsby” is no different.
It’s an uneven picture, occasionally head-scratching but always engaging.
You probably know the story: at the height of the Roaring Twenties, mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) sets up shop at a mansion on a Long Island lake that is the dividing line between old money families and the noveau riche. Penniless bond trader Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is his next-door neighbor and confidante, who becomes enlisted in Gatsby’s quest to ingratiate himself with his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), a married, spoiled socialite on the opposite shore.
Luhrmann co-wrote the script with Craig Pearce, which does a better job than other cinematic adaptations at finding the flesh-and-blood people underneath Fitzgerald’s feather-light characterizations. DiCaprio makes Gatsby a compelling figure, a man wrapped in self-delusion in pursuit of something pure. It’s not just Daisy he’s reaching for, but a vision of himself that is hopeful.
Whether you loved the novel or suffered through it in school, “The Great Gatsby” has never leapt off the page quite like this.