DVD Release Date: August 27, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: May 10, 2013
Rating: PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language
Genre: Drama
Run Time: 143 min. 
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke, Isla Fisher, Amitabh Bachchan

In a cinematic era dominated by the hugely successful Harry Potter and Twilight adaptations aimed at younger audiences, is there place for a fresh spin on a classic novel with no vampires or wizards?

Warner Brothers thinks so, choosing to pick not just any highly regarded novel for its first big release of the 2013 summer movie season. The studio has backed an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, considered by many to be the greatest American novel. The risk of such an undertaking is hard to underestimate. This story is driven not by special effects but by the characters—the type of film usually released among year-end awards contenders, not alongside the latest Iron Man and Star Trek films. Although contemporary audiences may have read the novel in high school, how excited will they be about a story set in the 1920s—before their parents were born?

Warner wisely had Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom director Baz Luhrmann helm the new film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, coming off yet another major box-office success in Django Unchained. Luhrmann brings verve and cinematic energy to this adaptation that might not sit right with the novel’s fans, but will please viewers who come to see, first and foremost, a movie. This version of Gatsby is anything but staid.

We get to know the title character through the eyes of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man 3), Gatsby’s Long Island neighbor and the narrator. The film’s framing device—Nick telling Gatsby’s story as part of a treatment plan at a sanitarium—is unique to this Gatsby. He lives near Gatsby’s mansion, the site of one lavish party after another. Yet Nick doesn’t know much about the mysterious owner.

Nick also lives across the bay from his cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan, An Education) and her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton, Warrior). Things aren’t going well between the married couple, with Tom flagrantly carrying on with Myrtle (Isla Fisher, Bachelorette), the wife of a garage owner (Jason Clark). Gatsby reveals to Nick that he has unfinished business with Daisy: They’d met five years earlier and had fallen in love, but life had taken them in different directions. Although Daisy married Tom, Gatsby is determined to win Daisy back.