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Nine Things You Need To Know About The Great Gatsby (Yep, We Saw It)

As a girl hopelessly obsessed with all things Baz Luhrmann—Australia notwithstanding—I couldn't wait to see the Aussie director's interpretation of The Great Gatsby, arguably the best novel ever written. And thanks to the kindly team at Tiffany & Co., who provided the showstopping jewels seen in the movie, I didn't have to. Last night, I screened the film several days ahead of its May 10 release date—and have shared my thoughts below. Read on!

  • Sometimes, it can be tempting to save a few dollars by seeing a movie available in 3D in regular, 2D form. Don't do it with Gatsby. Luhrmann shot the film in three-dimensional format, and while that decision in itself might be questionable, the final product makes use of the technique in new and novel ways. Text from Fitzgerald's landmark book drifts and dissolves across the screen, the moving, Art Deco-style closing credits are mesmerizing (not a single person at my screening left the theater until they were finished)—and you, like Gatsby himself, will be tempted to reach toward the Buchanans' infamous green light. It's that realistic-looking.
  • Mark my words: Gatsby will do for Aussie newcomer Elizabeth Debicki what The Devil Wears Prada did for Emily Blunt. Her portrayal of Jordan Baker, one of the story's coolest ladies, is a major highlight. You'll find yourself missing her when she's offscreen, guaranteed.
  • A lot will be made of the film's anachronistic soundtrack, and Fitzgerald purists will certainly take issue with the fact that Luhrmann's essentially transformed the Jazz Age into the Jay-Z Age. Sometimes it works (Lana Del Rey's "Young & Beautiful" gorgeously scores Gatsby's mansion tour—I got major goosebumps), sometimes it doesn't (seriously, who invited the Black Eyed Peas to the party?). And sometimes, it'll just make you giggle—as much of my theater did when Jay-Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" popped up during a certain scene.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Jay Gatsby blows Robert Redford's out of the water. Not only does the man look the part, but he plays J.G. in a perfectly affected, perfectly naive way. Why Leo hasn't gotten an Oscar yet, I'll never know—but I'd be surprised if he doesn't earn at least a nomination for this particular role.
  • On a similar note, the final shots of Leo's Gatsby—spoiler alert!—drifting downwards, motionless, through his swimming pool will give you Titanic flashbacks. And you will enjoy them.
  • If Catherine Martin doesn't take home an Oscar for Best Costume Design, I'll eat my cloche. Outfits for the film's core characters aside, the attention to detail that went into dressing every single person during the lavish party scenes (where there are literally hundreds of nameless, faceless characters drinking and dancing) is remarkable. The costumes are perhaps the best I've ever seen in a major movie—and the 3D only helps to play up all those crystals, sequins, elaborate beadwork and fringe. Oh, and keep in mind that in addition to the costumes themselves, Martin also oversaw Gatsby's entire production design. What a boss.
  • Luhrmann and Martin's sumptuous depiction of Roaring Twenties excess will make you wonder why this year's Met Costume Institute exhibit wasn't Jazz Age-themed. Seriously, Gatsby glamour totally tops punk rebelliousness—although, of course, it's possible to mix the two. Our only guess here is that since the Met covered that same era with its Poiret: King of Fashion exhibit back in 2007, maybe the museum didn't want to seem redundant. But honestly, is it even possible to OD on Art Deco? I say no.
  • Keep your eyes peeled during the first party sequence for Gemma Ward, looking every bit as gorgeous as she did during her early-2000s runway years. She even has a line! One line!
  • You better freeze your credit cards into blocks of ice before heading to the theater, because Gatsby's gonna make you want to buy fistfuls of jewelry. Seriously, I got home from my screening at close to midnight and immediately started shopping for earrings. And I don't even wear earrings.

My verdict: Luhrmann's Gatsby, while imperfect, is in many ways the best onscreen adaptation of Fitzgerald's novel to date. Reviews will be sharply divided, with the flick's sheer over-the-top-ness and modern soundtrack likely receiving the most criticism. Luhrmann devotees will love it—and if non-fans can get past all the glitter and intentional gaudiness, they just might as well. And if nothing else, Gatsby's gonna make you want to shop.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

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