First Hit: Visually arresting at times, but the story lagged and acting was spotty.
A good actor can create believability in a character. Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby had me believing. I like how he’s matured and the lines in his face are giving him an air of reliability.
Carey Mulligan (as Daisy Buchanan) didn’t quite make it for me. She appears too intelligent and strong to make me believe she would choose to stay with her husband given the love she had for Gatsby.
Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, the storyteller, is good at showing vulnerability, intelligence and obsessiveness. One thing that perplexed me from the beginning was how I was expected to believe that Nick and Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) went to school together – the perceived age difference between the two characters didn’t work for me.
I sat there and said to myself multiple times, these two guys didn’t go to college together. Baz Luhrmann directed this film with visual flash at the expense of substance and the real Fitzgerald story is about substance in the world of flash. The choice of using modern attempts at music from the 20’s was extremely poor and seemed way out of place. DiCaprio wanted me to know more about his character and there is where the film could have spent more time.
I did like how the filmed opened with black and white Warner Bros logo and moved into the beautiful 3D world of the film. Another strong aspect of the film was the way we (the audience) were introduced to the story – by having Nick writing his experience while in a mental hospital.
DiCaprio was the strongest character in the film and I wanted to know more about him and the script and director didn’t quite deliver. Mulligan didn’t quite make me believe she was as weak as her character was made to be. Edgerton was a strong Buchanan and was solid. Maguire was good and I believed his character and way of telling his story. Craig Pearce and Luhrmann wrote a good, not great, script but Baz overdressed this film and relied on the glitz and left the story behind.
Overall: The film was a letdown although some of the performances were very good.