I just returned from seeing Gatsby. I have to say that despite a reluctance on my part to go to see this film because of the lukewarm reviews, I ended up absolutely loving it. I don’t even like Leonardo DiCaprio as a rule, but he was perfectly cast as Jay Gatsby and Tobey Maguire played Nick Carraway with a strong sense of tortured goodness. Carrie Mulligan as Daisy continues to dazzle the screen with her nuanced performances (rent The Education if you have not already seen it) and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buckingham had a perfect balance of horrible behavior laced with real feeling. The production design for this opulent film was amazing, as was the set and costume design. I also liked the music which has produced its own controversy, but which served the film well by demonstrating that though the story is set in the 1920’s, it could easily be a modern tale.
It turns out that I know the executive producer, Bruce Berman, and two of the main producers, Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick. I taught their children when they were in 4th grade here in LA at the Center for Early Education and then I worked privately with their kids for several more years as their writing coach. I didn’t know Gatsby was Bruce, Lucy and Doug’s film until the credits rolled. It was a treat to discover that these three people (among a few others) are primarily responsible for this film. Bruce Berman has produced many movies over the years, the most recent of which are Training Day, the “Oceans” trilogy, and Mystic River. Lucy Fisher and Doug Wicker have produced Lawless, Memoirs of a Geisha, Jarhead, and Gladiator, to name only a few. Anyway, it is not everyday that I recognize the people who have produced a film I’ve just seen. So, that made my loving the movie even better.
It will come as no surprise to you then that I heartily recommend going to see Gatsby. It is visually stunning (we saw it in 3D), well acted, and tells a story that holds up after all these years.
But if I had to pick one reason to see this movie, then it would have to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. Leonardo captured the spirit of hope in Jay Gatsby perfectly. For that alone, go see the film.