In 1992, visionary Australian theatre director Baz Luhrmann made a seamless transition to the big screen with his swoonsomely romantic fable, Strictly Ballroom, starring Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice.
The feel-good debut, the first part of Luhrmann’s so-called Red Curtain trilogy, garnered numerous awards including three Baftas. His imaginative version of Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes proved that Shakespeare can be sexy and relevant to modern audiences and then in 2002, his visually dazzling musical Moulin Rouge! snagged eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture and a Best Actress nod for Nicole Kidman.
Unbelievably, Luhrmann was snubbed for Best Director, which inspired host Whoopi Goldberg to quip, “I guess Moulin Rouge! just directed itself.” He reunited with Kidman for Australia, an overlong love story co-starring Hugh Jackman, and now he gravitates back to leading man DiCaprio for The Great Gatsby, his first foray into the fashionable 3D format which claims the honour of opening this year’s Cannes Film Festival on May 15. Luhrmann is the first film-maker in almost 40 years to commit F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel to the big screen, bringing his distinctive style and youthful energy to a story of smouldering passions in swinging 1920s New York.
Mysterious millionaire war hero Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) is famed for throwing the most lavish and decadent parties for the social elite.
Everyone wants to be close to the dashing and moneyed man of mystery. Lowly stockbroker Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is drawn into Gatsby’s orbit thanks to his friendships with golfer Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton).
As Nick is granted admission to Gatsby’s inner circle, he discovers heartbreak in the millionaire’s murky history. Past and present collide and Nick bears witness to the poisoning of friendships by jealousy and forbidden desire.