The Great Gatsby (2013)

the great gatsby

“I’d prefer not to be the polo player.”

The Scoop: 12A 2013, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire.

Tagline: Can’t repeat the past? Of course you can!

Summary Capsule: Beautiful people make bad choices in the 1920s, to the tune of ‘Crazy in Love.’ Self-made millionaire puts now-married-ex-girlfriend on a pedestal, observed by spineless prude, while Baz Luhrmann does what he’s done before.


Louise’s rating: If I had chosen the taglines for this film, I would have chosen, ‘It’s all fun and games, until someone ends up dead in the pool,’ or, ‘It’s not a real party until somebody dies.’ Either of those would also be useful advice for hosts everywhere.

Louise’s review: How far you appreciate Great Gatsby is dependent on your appreciation (or potential for appreciation) of the art of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Baz Luhrmann. The movie is a confluence of their individual tastes into a perfect storm of hedonism and egoism. If you adore the novel and/or you thought Australia unjustly maligned, you will spoon GG up like sweet mouthfuls of prohibition pie.

The narrator of Great Gatsby is Nick, a former stockbroker from a wealthy family. He tells the story of his married cousin Daisy Buchanan and what happens when her first love, a poor soldier called Jay Gatsby, reappears in her life as a mysterious millionaire. Over the course of a hot summer, Gatsby throws a series of legendary parties, partially reveals the secrets of his wealth (and it’s not ‘hard work, luck and honest dealing’) and tries to win Daisy back from her boorish husband Tom. The cocktail of adultery, lies, alcohol, snobbery, fear and misdirected and aborted love are shaken together for a catastrophic ending. All fun and games until someone ends up dead in the pool.

I would have to say that it drags a little, pace wise, Daisy disappears for a large chunk, and I disapprove (strongly) of one change from the book (but that doesn’t really hurt the movie). Otherwise, heartily recommended, unless Luhrmann gives you a headache, or Fitzgerald makes you cry, “I just don’t care about your made-up problems!”

If you have low tolerance for hysterical hyper-reality, or if you’re the practical type of person who thinks those three sisters should just buy flipping train tickets if they want to get to flipping Moscow so flipping much, then it may not be a good choice for your evening’s entertainment.

That being said, for the rest of us over-egged-pudding romantics, the movie is a faithful and enlivening adaptation of Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. The casting is really strong and all performances are excellent. Visually and musically, it is a treat, and the party scenes can be singled out as absolutely fantastic. The screenplay and visuals work together to tell a story which feels ridiculously melodramatic, pretentious and cliché, but beneath the cheese and diamond costume is deeply sad. It is compelling, in a word. I think if you give it one try, you will actually return to it again and again.

If you would care to step this way, I'll show you my comprehensive destruction of the American Dream. Zelda always enjoys that.
If you would care to step this way, I’ll show you my comprehensive destruction of the American Dream. Zelda always enjoys that.


  • The Great Gatsby was also adapted for the big screen in 1974, and famously starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow’s haircut as Gatsby and Daisy’s haircut.
  • Fitzgerald’s novels mining his own traumatic marriage include The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, Beautiful and Damned and This Side of Paradise. His wife Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald’s riposte is a novel called Save Me the Waltz.
  • Joel Edgerton, who plays Tom, has come a long way since he was Dreadlock Knight (Gawain) in King Arthur. He also appeared in Episode III as the younger version of Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen.
  • Will Leonardo DiCaprio ever have a happy ending?

Groovy Dialogue:

Daisy: I hope she’ll be a fool. That’s the best thing a girl can be in this world – a beautiful little fool.

Tom: I’d prefer not to be ‘the polo player.’

Nick: Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past

Nick: You can’t repeat the past.
Gatsby: Can’t repeat the past?
Nick: No
Gatsby: Why of course you can! Of course you can!

Daisy: Open another window.
Nick: There aren’t any more.
Daisy: Then send for an axe!

Jordan: I like large parties – they’re so intimate. Small parties? There isn’t any privacy.

If you enjoyed this movie, try:

  • Moulin Rouge!
  • Anna Karenina
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


  1. I saw this for the first time last night and really like it. One of my favorite things about the 1920’s is how the era came crashing down into reality.
    “My candle burns at both ends;
    it will not last the night;
    But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
    it gives a lovely light!”
    Edna St. Vincent Millay

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