Published May 15. 2013 11:00AM Updated May 15. 2013 6:26PM
If this whole film-director thing falls through, Baz Luhrmann could have a second career as a party planner.
The wing-dings he helped whip up for his "Great Gatsby" are roiling, riotous amusements. You want to grab a glass of champagne and jump into all the Charleston-dancing, pool-diving, confetti-tossing, fireworks-exploding craziness. It doesn't hurt that everyone looks fabulous — women in glittery, kicky 1920s dresses, men in slicked-back hair and sharp suits. If "Gatsby" was meant in any way to be an indictment of excess, well, Luhrmann didn't get the memo.
Not that I care. It's an enjoyable bauble of a movie.
Oh, the visuals! The filmmakers have created an extravagent version of tony 1920s New York City and Long Island, and they have just as memorably CGI-ed to life a grimy town that the rich characters maraud through.
As for the soundtrack, the much-ballyhooed use of hip-hop does actually add a nice edge to the proceedings and reminds us of the modern echoes of the haves-versus-the-have-nots and the downside of the American dream.
And the acting? Leonardo DiCaprio gives possibly the best performance of his career as the mysterious Gatsby, expertly unveiling layers of the character's identity.
As Daisy, Carey Mulligan makes her eyes glisten longingly like few other actresses can. She is winsomeness personified. Her Daisy, though, gets short shrift, especially as the film nears its conclusion.
Joel Edgerton commands the screen as Daisy's bull — and bully — of a husband, Tom Buchanan. The intensity and the violence boiling under his facade make for a compelling performance, but Edgerton doesn't show much of the softer side that would have made Daisy fall for him in the first place.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Tobey Maguire is perfectly guileless and watchful as narrator Nick, who brings his cousin Daisy together with Gatsby.
Two performances are surprisingly off-key: Isla Fisher is miscast as Tom's 10-cent floozy, and Jason Clarke, so mesmerizing in "Zero Dark Thirty," is a caricature of a blue-collar dolt as Fisher's cuckolded husband.
What did you think of "The Great Gatsby"?