When love is a twisted affair, someone is always broken.

A few weeks ago I watched Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby. I had put off watching it, fearful that it would fall short of the 1974 movie that as a teenage girl had me wringing my hands and my heart writhing with pain at the injustice done to Jay Gatsby.

Mia Farrow_Robert Redford

For it is often that those long ago influences capture a part of us, particularly when youth catches us impressionable and full of yearning for beautiful men who long for just one woman.

This 1974 movie was also what drove me to discover F. Scott Fitzgerald.

F.Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald is said to have described the book as his imaginary eldest brother. Though not a successful novel in his time, it is estimated that the novel’s sales average around 500,000 copies a year.

The Great Gatsby book cover

The story of Jay and Daisy reminds me much of Heathcliff and Cathy. Daisy and Cathy are both spoiled and selfish women. The men who loved them doomed from the moment their hearts opened and allowed these women passage to their souls.

Remakes are often a disappointment, even when decades have passed. Yet in watching the new Gatsby, with all its excess, I found myself once again leaving the walls of my home to be transported to another time and place.

These two versions of this wonderful story could not be more different. Yet the most important aspects have changed little. Redford’s Jay swelled my teenage heart. Leo’s Jay did the same for my middle aged one.

Leonardo Di Caprio

In comparison Redford’s Jay is a much more subtle portrayal. Calmer, though still with that underlying urgency to please Daisy. But as the film continued I found myself liking Leo’s Jay just that little bit more. His desperation is more palpable, his nervous energy when around Daisy makes him a little more vulnerable.

I have never liked the character of Daisy. After all, she threw Jay in to the whirlwind in both films. That said…what a wonderful character she must have been to write. Mia Farrow’s version of Daisy left me scornful of this silly, vapid and selfish woman. Carey Mulligan’s Daisy found me a little more sympathetic. Not much, but there were subtle nuances in her portrayal that in comparison Mia Farrow missed showing us.

The Buchanans as a unit are such wonderful villains. For villains they are. They remind me of a gin and tonic. Both bitter on their own. Yet it is when put together that they meld to take you down before you know it. In fact, the Buchanans belong together in their toxic relationship and worthless world.

Tobey Macquire took on admirably the role of Nick Carroway from Sam Waterston. Both men did a great job. Nick is a wonderful character as he narrates his way through the time he spent with Jay and Daisy. There is something haunting about Toby Macquire’s voice that I have always liked. I think that casting him as Nick was a wonderful choice.

The 2013 movie is most definitely a Lurhmann production. And he doesn’t always get it right. While I loved Moulin Rouge I disliked almost everything about Australia.

I think the cast is where he got this one right. Their performances added a dose of subtlety to his usual need for excess. I was prepared to hate this version. Instead I found myself falling in love with this story all over again. I knew I was lost when a familiar feeling was roused in my chest. I wanted to protect Jay from the inevitable.

Leonardo Di Caprio

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  1. The Great Gatsby was my favored novel in college and waited for the present movie version. The film was a disappointment, a different interpretation and I prefer my print copy.


  2. I’m no movie buff, Jo, but reading this review makes me wish I was! (sport seems to dominate the screen in our house and I can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema. Might have been Star Wars- the original!) It’s the book for me, every time, but your review makes me realise what I’m missing.


  3. I absolutely loved this film too. But I feel you in siding with jay Gatsby. So many critics believe that Gatsbys love for daisy was an artificial one and he loved her because she embodies fortune and wealth to him. So they don’t feel very sympathetic towards him


      1. I see. Well, thats because Gatsby was supposed to have this really attractive personality but all in all I believe he was a good person, a little delusional, but good and better than Daisy!


  4. Yay!!! I’m glad you liked the new version too!. I really liked it, and had also been afraid to see it after watching the first one, to refresh my memory shortly before giving in and watching the new one. I think I liked both Redford and DiCaprio pretty much equally, each had their own subtle nuances.


    1. I really did love it Angeline. Especially Leo’s performance. Not that I don’t still love Redford’s. I rewatched the 1974 version last night. What a wonderful story it it. I got the novel again [on my kindle] as I think it is time to revisit FSF again.


  5. I remember the earlier version at the theatre but I didn’t have enough life experience to understand it well enough. Thank you for this review. I hope to see the new version and wonder what I’ll get out of it this time around. 🙂


  6. Not seen the new version Jo but as Jo said earlier you make me want to now after that great review .
    I think it’s going to be one for DD and me to watch 😉


    1. I downloaded the novel to my kindle so that I can revisit FSF. I just love rereading books after time passes. I find so many new moments I missed at an earlier age.


  7. Great review – now I feel I might go and see it anyway…I loved the Redford one and is not that in love with di Caprio. But he is a brilliant actor. So…I think I’ll go. It sounds worth it!


    1. I think he does a great job in this. I am a Leo fan, but am willing to admit when he doesn’t get it right. Hated THE BEACH !!!! I think he makes Jay very vulnerable in this portrayal, and as Jay is a favourite character of mine…well I am happy.


      1. Mmm – I’ll definately go. I cried for Jay in my youth…I’ll cry again. Leo did a very good job in …was it Inception? One of my favourites is his very start in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”


        1. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is such a brilliant movie. So you liked Inception…me too !!!! He also has a small part [in which I think he was very good] in The Quick and the Dead. Have you seen Blood Diamond? Or one I think that was possibly his best role ever…The Departed. Lots of swearing in that, but it actually belongs there in context. Fabulous cast. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and more.


        1. I am reeling !!!

          …right ????
          Now go get yourself a copy from the library and repair the damage you have done to my saddened heart.

          I better go and get coffee…I need it !!



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