A World War I veteran who moves to New York with an aspiration of becoming extremely successful financially, finds himself attracted to Jay Gatsby and his ostentatious lifestyle.
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Of course, the most iconic scene of Leonardo DiCaprio holding a wine glass with a magnificent smile is from none other than the film “The Great Gatsby”. A character with a unique aura of positivity and energy, a pure definition of a gentleman, DiCaprio plays the role of a super rich person with an ultimate vision and passion of achieving the unimaginable dreams.
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, “The Great Gatsby” is a masterpiece of Romance and Drama and a film that has won 21 awards in terms of costume design, cinematography, direction, lead acting, production and much more. After learning about Lurhmann’s “Strictly Ballroom,” “Romeo + Juliet” or “Moulin Rouge,” or “Gatsby” trailers, we can definitely expect an epic melodrama that blends old-movie theatrics and subjective filmmaking, period music and modern pop, real sets and unreal landscapes, psychological drama and sped-up slapstick.
The identity of Gatsby is so suspenseful that the first appearance of DiCaprio occurs after the first half hour of the movie. DiCaprio’s Gatsby is the movie’s greatest and simplest work: an illusion evoked mainly through body language and voice. Nick Carraway narrates the story in a real time fantasy. The actor’s choices drive home the idea that Gatsby is playing the man he wishes he were. The calculations can be seen behind his eyes, but we can also believe that he could hide them from the other characters as well.
Once we get past the movie’s opening eruptions of seamless scenes— hundreds of party guests boozing and howling and doing the Charleston; precise CGI cityscapes that visualize 1920s New York; a long intentional conversation between Gatsby and Nick in a brilliant yellow 1929 Duesenberg.
DiCaprio’s acting elicits Nick’s description of the human personality as “an unbroken series of successful gestures.” Luhrmann cuts some scenes to make it seem as if the character really is omniscient — as if he can see and hear for miles and read people’s thoughts and feelings — and DiCaprio plays these moments with a mix of mysteriousness and delight, as if Gatsby knows something others don’t, but is too clever to say precisely what. When Gatsby’s deceptions are revealed and his illusions exhausted, DiCaprio becomes terrifying and pathetic instantly. In his final moment of realization, DiCaprio’s blue eyes match the blue of Gatsby’s pool, and his anguished face, framed in tight close-up, has a ghastly beauty. This is an iconic performance — maybe his career best.
The rest of the cast is as precious as the collection of pearls that altogether make up a necklace. Nick Carraway is much more of an audience surrogate and a guy much closer to Gatsby than anyone in terms of friendship, support, and neighborhood.
Apart from the American classics, Legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan plays a short role as Meyer Wolfsheim; Gatsby’s friend, a prominent figure in organized crime. Before the events of the novel take place, Wolfsheim helped Gatsby to make his fortune bootlegging illegal liquor. His continued acquaintance with Gatsby suggests that Gatsby is still involved in illegal business.
Carey Mulligan is physically and vocally perfect for Daisy Buchanan — when she flirts, the famous description of the character having “a voice like money” absolutely makes sense — but the film doesn’t romanticize her, as Gatsby and Nick often seem to. There’s a contradictory, inconsistent person there. The actor suits the book’s description of the character as “hulking” and projects the cheerful arrogance of a thug impersonating a cultured man with money; he’s scary but life-sized, and always comprehensible. The small roles are well cast, too, with Elizabeth Debicki’s Jordan Baker as an exceptional quality. The director is genuinely interested in his actors performances, and in the characters spirit.