I haven’t had a chance to discuss this yet, but apparently Baz Luhrmann’s next project is a shot at “The Great Gatsby,” one of the greatest American novels and one that is still missing a satisfactory film adaptation. The 1974 version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow just felt so meh – a little too glossy, too shallow. I never really felt like it plunged the emotional depths present in Fitzgerald’s work (his style may very well be un-filmable). Considering the level of emotional complexity generally on display in Baz Luhrmann films, I can’t say I’m thrilled that he’s the next choice to take a crack at “Gatsby;” but hey, at least we know the party scenes will be suitably lavish.
Luhrmann’s casting choices for the three main roles have now been revealed, however, and they are rather intriguing. Tobey Maguire will play Nick Carraway, which I can’t really see myself, but after Maguire’s eye-opening performance in “Brothers” last year, it may turn out that his “Spider-Man” days really were oppressing his true talents. The tricky role of Gatsby himself falls to Leonardo DiCaprio, unsurprisingly given his previous collaboration with Luhrmann. This I think could work; earlier in the 2000’s I would’ve said you were nuts, that DiCaprio could pull off the pretty boy aspects of Gatsby but would have none of his suppressed menace – but recently his work in “The Departed” and especially “Revolutionary Road” make me think that he could pull the role off quite well. He certainly has an edge now that I don’t think Robert Redford ever did.
And then there’s Daisy. How the hell do you decide who to cast in this role? It has to be someone that makes you believe how Gatsby could turn her into the dream girl, the perfect woman; but then she also has to be human, to prevent the audience from falling into the same trap. Mia Farrow performed the task admirably in the older version (indeed, she was one of the better parts of that film), though I always thought she made Daisy a little too frail for my taste. Who did Luhrmann pick for this go-around? Carey Mulligan.
First reaction: huh? Isn’t she significantly younger than DiCaprio? How do you make that work? But, with an assist from this still, which Luhrmann apparently took himself at the first workshops for the film that took place this week, I’m starting to come around to the idea:
Hmmmm. I’m liking the glamor, the aloof but independent look. This could be a real opportunity for Mulligan to show why she’s one of our most promising young actresses by playing totally against her “An Education” type. The movie will start filming early next year, no word yet on a release date. I’m still not sold on the project, but Mulligan’s involvement means that I’m going to at least keep a close eye on any further developments.