The Great Gatsby is so good that I am required to give up my dislike of writer-director Baz Luhrmann for his William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, because in The Great Gatsby Luhrmann forgets about calling attention to himself and devotes himself to his material, and comes as close to doing justice to F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel as I expect any movie director ever can.
Luhrmann has been criticized for going over the top with Gatsby's incredibly lavish parties, but the parties in the novel also verged on the unbelievable. And I have been assured that there were parties like that in the '20s, and since then.
In any event, they are part of the American romanticism and materialism that Fitzgerald both envied and satirized, along with Gatsby's adolescent idolization of Daisy, as well as the faith that enough money can buy anything-- even the past. Fitzgerald's novel was realistic in his theme, but exaggeration in details was one of his main methods.
Leonardo DiCaprio projects Gatsby's obsessions perfectly, and Carey Mulligan somehow conveys Daisy's status as a dream more than a real woman, despite the fact that in a movie she can't be shown almost completely through the impression she makes on Gatsby, which is the main technique Fitzgerald uses.
If there is any problem with the casting, it's that Tobey Maguire can't help looking 15 years younger than his real age, which, in fact, is about the same as DiCaprio's. Maybe Luhrmann thought his appearance fit his naive innocence as a narrator-- one of the points I still disagree with Luhrmann on.
And okay, the music is anachronistic. I couldn't care less. I don't understand the other criticisms of Baz Luhrmann's The Greaty Gatsby, and I don't care about the score.