If you’ve ever read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most beloved novel, The Great Gatsby, then you’re familiar with the timeless tale of Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby and the Buchanans. Having read the novel twice in high school, I was thrilled to hear that they were making a movie out of the 1925 classic, but I wasn’t expecting the theatrical display that would soon play out before me.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby is loud, lavish and visually stunning. The set design is overwhelming (in a good way), and the camera angles, edits and use of 3D effects remain true to Luhrmann’s unique style. The parties are wild, the characters are extravagant and the costumes present an accurate portrayal of what it was like to dress in the 1920’s. The one thing that this film is not is boring.

The set of The Great Gatsby is one to marvel at. Each mansion was more unique and intricate than the next. We’re talking marble floors, pools scattered throughout the house, balconies overlooking breathtaking views, scenic gardens and enough champagne to sink a ship. The automobiles portrayed throughout the film also caught my eye. The iconic-looking cars of the era are seen zipping down the streets of New York City. But the city as we know today is unrecognizable, as it was designed to depict a time 90+ years ago.

Narrated by Nick Carraway (played by Toby McGuire) the film illustrates the intense love affair between Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Leonardo DiCaprio has the honor of playing the ever-opulent Mr. Jay Gatsby, and – in my opinion – he does a praiseworthy job. McGuire and DiCaprio are friends off the silver screen, and their connection with each other is evident throughout the movie. Newcomer Carrie Mulligan plays the role of Daisy Buchanan. Carrie has a whimsical and delicate way of portraying Daisy that mirrors her depiction in the novel perfectly.

Acting creates a story, but music gives the movie drama and style. The Great Gatsby is full of 1920’s sounding music… with a twist. The instruments, beats, and melodies found on the Gatsby soundtrack are traditional 20’s, but the artists singing the songs are hip and new, such as Jay Z, Florence Welch and Jack White. The collaboration of classic sounds and fresh voices worked for me, as it made for a thrilling, though unexpected musical experience.

Even if you’re not a fan of Luhrmann’s excessive style, you’ll find yourself subconsciously thanking him for staying true to the original plot. Every time a book turns into a movie, I hear countless complaints about key moments being left out, but you won’t find that problem when watching The Great Gatsby. The film does a great job of including every major moment, vital detail and recognizable quote.  For me, the film was a perfect combination of celebrating a classic novel and incorporating modern, innovative touches that the audience can enjoy. 

Melanie Marzillo
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living