Let me just say, Leonardo DiCaprio IS Gatsby. He has every little mannerism down, from the smile with the "quality of eternal reassurance" to the way he says "old sport." In fact, he so embodies the character that when Gatsby becomes frazzled, DiCaprio slips into a natural, unaffected speaking manner, revealing James Gatz beneath Jay Gatsby.*
All of the actors are fantastic, though, not just Leo. Carey Mulligan plays Daisy a million times better than Mia Farrow ever did. (Sorry Farrow fans.) While watching the movie, I forgot that she is a beloved Doctor Who actress, instead seeing Daisy come to life on the screen. The only actor I can't fully stand behind is Tobey McGuire; for the first hour or so, I found his narration irritating, though towards the end, I became more fond of his interpretation of Nick Carraway.
As for Baz Luhrmann's direction, he got some things very, very right. The T.J. Eckleberg sign, for one, is spot on, and all of the sets are gorgeous. I'm thrilled that Owl Eyes is included, as the Robert Redford version unfairly left him out. Overall, Luhrmann sticks to the book, taking a small liberty with the narration that is actually clever and doesn't alter the plot.
But. (You had to know there would be a but.) I realize that in today's day and age everything has to be in 3D (though I sincerely hope that that will no longer be a novelty soon). However, that doesn't excuse the cheesy and nausea-inducing camerawork throughout the film. Occasionally, the camera zooms in a way that is meant to be dramatic, but comes across as cornball. This is worsened by the score; while I can understand that some may see the decision to use modern rap music as bold, I felt it was ridiculous. The music ruins the film's atmosphere and took me out of the story several times.
Considering my usual criticisms of book adaptations (ask anyone who's seen a Harry Potter movie with me), there are relatively few things I disapprove of in Gatsby. A friend said that it gave them a deeper appreciation of the book, and it definitely allows you to see certain aspects of the novel in a different light. I'm certainly glad to have seen it (anyone catch the reference?) and will definitely buy a copy when it comes to DVD.
*I have a small, tiny, miniscule issue with DiCaprio's performance: When gazing towards the green light, Leo lifted one arm. Redford did this, as well. Gatsby is supposed to lift both arms. I really don't understand why this tidbit of accuracy is so difficult. I mean, even Troy Bolton could do it. Okay, I'm done nickpitting.
Have you seen The Great Gatsby? What are your thoughts?