Nick Caraway (Toby Maguire) moves to New York to be part of the Wall Street boom. He moves into a small cottage in the West Egg, next to billionaire Jay Gatsby’s mansion. He is instantly intrigued by the man who he sees only glimpses of and only meets until much later. Gatsby is notoriously mysterious, and with no one knowing where he gets his millions from he is the subject of abject curiosity. Gatsby is known for throwing lavish parties where every party goer in NY is welcome without an invitation, although no one really even knows how he looks like.
Nick reunites with his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and meets her pompous husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It is immediately obvious that theirs is not a happy marriage. During dinner, the phone rings incessantly and Daisy knows that it is Tom’s current mistress calling. Joining them at dinner also is golfer Jordan Parker (Elizabeth Debicki). She seems very aloof but gets overly curious whenever Daisy and Tom fights. When Jordan casually mentions that she knows Nick’s neighbor, Nick immediately notices that the name Gatsby means something very important to Daisy.
Nick is incredibly flattered when he becomes the first person ever to receive a personal invitation to go to Gatsby’s next party. He attends, and he and Jordan start searching for the elusive host. When Nick finds him, he is startled when Jay Gatsby is young, handsome and charming; nothing like the old man he was expecting to meet. Gatsby requests that Nick joins him on an adventure the next day, and he accepts.
Gatsby and Nick are on their way to being friends when they go to a secret lounge one day. There Nick meets Meyer Wolfsheim (Amitabh Bachchan), Gatsby’s business partner and seemingly a very underhanded man. He and Gatsby both offer Nick a way to make extra cash, but Nick instinctively knows that their dealings might not be legal. Gatsby is known and respected by seemingly everyone – including mafia bosses and governors. Yet when Tom Buchanan arrives at the secret luncheon the change in Gatsby is startling. He is immediately withdrawn and seems to have no confidence. Tom barely notices Gatsby and moves on.
Gatsby tells Nick that Jordan will ask him to do a favor to Gatsby. Nick expects the worst, but the request is deceptively simple. Gatsby wants Nick to invite Daisy to lunch, which he wants to attend as well. It is the reunion Gatsby has waited on for years. Nick invites Daisy, and when she sees Gatsby the years fall away and they are once again the young lovers they were five years earlier.
Tom starts to suspect his wife of extra marital affairs but is unable to prove anything because Nick is the perfect cover. However, Gatsby isn’t content to be Daisy’s toyboy – he wants Daisy to divorce Tom and admit she never loved him. She reluctantly agrees and they all have lunch together. Before Gatsby says anything, Daisy says she wants to head into town for some fun. They go, Tom using Gatsby’s car and Daisy and Gatsby in Tom’s car. On the way there, Tom stops for gas and sees his mistress Mytle (Isla Fisher) locked up. Her husband George (Jason Clarke) says that they are planning to go away, and Tom realizes that he is losing his wife and mistress simultaneously. In Town, Tom says he knows that Daisy is sleeping with Gatsby, the confrontation happens but not to Gatsby’s advantage. Daisy is unable to claim that she never loved Tom, because even though Tom is horrible there was something special between them once. Tom, sensing victory, says it is time to head home and says Daisy and Gatsby should use Gatsby’s car again. They leave with screeching tires.
Myrtle sees what she thinks is Tom’s car and runs out into the street for help. The car is unable to swerve in time and kills her instantly. The car rushes away. Tom arrives and sees his mistress dead and realize what it means. He tells George who the car belongs to and leaves as well.
The next day George arrives at the Gatsby mansion looking for Jay. What will happen? Will Daisy leave Tom? What will George do?
There was a moment a few minutes into the movie where I wasn’t sure if it would be for me. True, I love Baz Luhrman’s work and I loved the Gatsby novel, but the way it was filmed struck me as a bit odd. It is very artsy to be honest. However, barely a second after the moment I started enjoying it.
The movie is very loyal to the book. It captures the fast paced drama very well. All the characters were well cast – my impression of George Wilson was somewhat different to the movie adaption, but even that worked in the end. I felt really sorry for him. He was an innocent bystander in it all and a puppet in Tom’s plan. I particularly thought Elizabeth Debicki was exceptional as Jordan Parker. She really was what I expected – the aloof, yet innately curious golfer who was mostly also innocent in the events that unfolded.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby
He once again stole the show as Gatsby. Can he do anything wrong? I think not. He is the standard for all actors to be measured by. He evolved from his young Jack Dawson days to become one of the most exceptional members of Hollywood. I really thought he brought the charm, mystery and sadness Gatsby needed to the table. He is astoundingly charming. The exaggerated accent and the “old sport” – both are parts of the book, irritated me but were essential to what Gatsby is.
Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan
The more I think about it, the more I liked Mulligan as Daisy. She did the society princess thing perfectly. She is obviously a very good actress, and I think I will have to find some more movies where she is in to confirm this notion.
Toby Maguire as Nick Carraway
I have never been a fan of Toby Maguire, but he was very pleasant in the Great Gatsby. He is perfect to play Nick, and he did a good job playing the young, naive man caught up in Rich People Drama.
If you can, read the book before watching this. It is wonderful to see how loyal the movie is to it.
My review on the book is here