Well, it’s here. The first glimpse of Baz Luhrman’s film adaptation of a novel that, upon publication, sold very few copies and was essentially out of print at the time of the author’s death. Initial reaction: it looks bad ass. Huge extravagant automobiles swerving under the subway in Queens, martinis and champagne flowing, spilling everywhere, pretty women with diadems in their hair: in a word, decadence.
Sure, it’s strange to imagine the ur-American novel being directed by an Australian, and the role of Daisy, a Kentuckian, played by a British actress, but we’ve got Leo there in the lead role, Tobey as a stable, if necessarily forgettable Nick Carraway. So what about Tom Buchanan and Jordan Baker? In the trailer, Jordan looks tall and awkward (she’s a golfer, so maybe this works), but in my mind I always imagined Jordan as one of those girls who was so good looking she hardly turned an eye to the “boys” not worthy of her attention. Hmm. Maybe it’ll work. Really, though, the whole story hinges upon a single character: Tom Buchanan.
Tom has a creepy yet time-appropriate pencil-thin mustache, talks about “what kind of a row” Gatsby’s trying to cause in his house. I suspect, though, that the reason why The Great Gatsby lacks the emotional kick in the teeth of This Side of Paradise or Tender is the Night, is that, somehow, Fitzgerald wasn’t sure how he felt about Tom in the moment of crisis, when Tom pleads his case to Daisy, reminds her of their honeymoon and of all the good times they’d had, so that you, the reader, relive those moments, too, and suddenly you’re ashamed of Gatsby, seducing Daisy, meddling in the affairs (if unhappy) of a married couple with two children (Carraway comments on the ease with which all the characters forget that there are children involved).
So, in this film, will we sympathize with Tom Buchanan, side with him, lose our faith in Gatsby, the way that Daisy does, choosing, ultimately, to stay with her husband? Or will we hate Tom from the very outset, pull for Gatsby all the way, and root for Daisy to make a run for it, leave her kids behind, and go with the love of her youth. Hard to say. In any case, the trailer’s AWESOME. Take a spin.