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Great Gatsby, The (3D) (DQ)


Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan, Jack Thompson, Barry Otto

Director: Baz Luhrmann

F Scott Fitzgerald's short novel has never made a satisfactory movie (any more than the rest of his work), but this version is simply overwhelmed by its art direction and production design, not to mention sometimes anachronistic background music.

The story in Fitzgerald's book, here set in 1922, and from which director Luhrmann often quotes direct (sometimes drifting the words themselves onto the screen in a dangerous device which just about works), is fairly simple, though blown up to elephantine proportions both in the 1974 Robert Redford version and here; although forties' idol Alan Ladd couldn't handle the romantic aspects of the plot, his 1949 version did at least get the story told in a tidy 90 minutes.

Here, it's a deeply-tanned DiCaprio as the enigmatic multi-millionaire Jay Gatsby, gazing fixedly across the sound from his West Egg mansion to the East Egg home of his lost love Daisy (Mulligan at her wistfully prettiest). DiCaprio's is a performance that's sometimes theatrical - as are others in this movie - but at its best in the quieter moments, when Gatsby is casually sure of himself and turns on the charm.

Where his money comes from is a murky mystery the film only partially reveals at the end, but he sure has a lot if it: the parties he throws at the castle-like fortress he calls home are almost too splendiferous and quickly attract the attention of his neighbour, aspiring writer Nick Carraway (an uneasily cast Maguire), as well as New York's finest and most foolish in their hundreds.

It's all for the benefit of Daisy, whom Gatsby loved before World War One service muddied the waters and she married Tom (Edgerton, with the film's best performance), a blustering, bullying womaniser who's not about to let her go. Gatsby is convinced he can re-create the past. He is, of course, wrong.

For all its faults, the film does look amazing, even given that some of the CGI effects are a bit dodgy; and the 3D is skilfully used to maximum advantage, accentuating the splendour of the settings.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by deluxe.
143 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 May 2013