Leonardo DiCaprio welcomes you to the summer's most lavish party
BY NATHANIEL ROGERS
"Gatsby. What Gatsby?"
Daisy asks with a rush of girlish 'it can't be!' alarm, her nerves far overpowering the tiny glimmer of hope you think you hear in her voice. Which is as sensible a reaction as anyone could have when hearing about the arrival of another Jay Gatsby in movie theaters. You don't mean THE GREAT GATSBY, do you?
The F Scott Fitzgerald classic is a tough book to crack for filmmakers, its power so tied to its gorgeous (slim) prose, its subtle and cynical evocations and condemnations of American wealth and unspoken caste system. Further complicating adaptations is that the story is subjectively narrated. It's all told by Nick Carraway and his is, despite blood ties to the wealthy, an outsider's point of view. It's an easy book to love but a difficult one to adapt. But Hollywood keeps trying once every thirty years or so.
The story, if you are unfamiliar (though you won't want to admit that out loud) follows the attempts of the elusive mysterious extremely wealthy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) to win back his lost love Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who he abandoned many years earlier while penniless to seek his fortune. That sounds like something out of a fairy tale, but to the novel's credit Fitzgerald doesn't exactly take it at face value as a hero's journey; what's so heroic about vast sums of money used only for personal gain?
Gatsby buys up an estate in West Egg Long Island where he has a direct eyeline across the water to a similarly palatial home in East Egg where Daisy lives with her rich and shady husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) who is carrying on an affair with low class Myrtle (Isla Fisher) who lives above a gas station in "The Valley of Ashes" which director Baz Luhrmann stages like it's the 10th circle of hell. Gatsby throws decadent flashy parties hoping to lure Daisy in and seduces her cousin Nick (Tobey Maguire, our narrator) into helping him facilitate the reunion.
Which gets this party (aka movie) started AFTER THE JUMP...