Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Redford, DiCaprio and my best friend’s boyfriends:

Being Jay Gatsby is a hard ask and Sue's not sure that anyone has nailed it yet.
By Sue Evans
Date: May 22 2013
Editor Rating:

Any man who plays Jay Gatsby is a bit like your best friend from school’s boyfriends. He’s never going to quite be good enough for her.

I haven’t seen the latest interpretation of one of the most enigmatic characters of early 20th Century American literature, but I just have a feeling that Leonardo DiCaprio is going to be more disappointing as Gatsby than Robert Redford was in the 1974 version. Not that Robert Redford was bad – he just wasn’t quite what I expected. A bit like my best friend’s boyrfriends.

I’m also not certain about filming a movie set on Long Island, New York, in Sydney. I know it’s just a film set, and director Baz Luhrmann is clever enough to make Mars look like New York, but it doesn’t seem right. However, with $40 million of our hard-earned money on offer from the Australian Government, I’m sure that made Baz’s decision relatively easy.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Baz Luhrmann's latest film, The Great Gatsby, premieres tonight in Sydney. It has already been shown in New York and Cannes to mixed reviews. I get the feeling that if you’re an F Scott Fitzgerald fan hoping for a faithful recreation of his great work – then the film is not for you.

But if you’re prepared to realign your expectations, what you will see is a lavish, loud, over-the-top musical and visual spectacular. Very Baz Luhrman.

It sounds like a 21st Century interpretation of the relatively decadent 1920s ‘Jazz Age’ in which the film is set, which is an entirely legitimate thing to do from an artistic perspective. But does it work? We'll see.

The music was overseen by the rapper Jay-Z. In 1974, that duty fell to Nelson Riddle, the composer-conductor who had a long association with Frank Sinatra, as well as others such as Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole and Judy Garland to name a few.

The premiere in Sydney tonight is to be attended by Baz, his wife, the very clever costumer designer Catherine Martin, as well as cast members Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and our own Joel Edgerton and Elizabeth Debicki. Evidently neither Di Caprio nor Isla Fisher, who plays Myrtle - the woman caught between East Egg and West Egg (read the book) - couldn’t get here.

If you intend seeing it, efore you do and if you haven’t read the book, do yourself a favour. It’s very slim, almost a novella. 

Despite my doubt about DiCaprio as Gatsby, I am going to see the film for three reasons:

1.  Because I love the book

2.  So I can talk about it, and

3.  Because I think we should support Australian filmmakers. Even if you don’t agree with Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation, his creativity and vision are admirable.

And if you’re old enough to remember the 1974 version, just remember what the least self-centred character in the book, Nick Carraway, says: “The past is another country.” Just like the boyfriends of my best friend from school.



Mia Farrow as Daisy and Robert Redford as Gatsby, 1974.


Carey Mulligan as Daisy and Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, 2013.

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