Full disclosure as I never read the book on which this movie is based on. I know it was supposedly mandatory reading back in school but for some reason I never did get my hands on it. From the group that I was with I was informed for the most part that translation to the screen was almost page for page with very little being left out.
Movie starts off with a voice over and it is revealed that the voice belongs to Nick ( Tobey Maguire ) and this movie is his story.
Nick moves to New York City to follow his dreams on making his name on Wall Street during the booming market during the roaring 20's. He has a cousin named Daisy ( Carey Mulligan ) that he is close to so he moves into a house on the opposite side of a lake that she is living on with her husband Tom ( Joel Edgerton ). She is a socialite that moved from Chicago and has been taken in by the high society that Tom provides for her. Tom revels in the life that he has and even has a mistress on the side. He and Nick party one night in the big city in which Nick experiences what it has to offer and is consumed but what Tom shows him. Nick finds out that he moved right next door to Gatsby ( Leonardo DiCaprio ) who throws elaborated parties every weekend where it seems like every party person in New York shows up for. Nick meets Gatsby at one of these parties and is somewhat in awe with his demeanor.
They end up talking for a few days and Nick finds out that the reason that Gatsby has befriended Nick is to get to Daisy who Gatsby has a past history with. Gatsby asks to arrange a "chance" meeting so he may talk to Daisy. Once together they catch up quickly and share what has happened to each of them over the past 5 years in where there was no communication back and forth. Nick is swept into the situation and watches as they pick up like there was never a time when they weren't together. The only problem is that she is still married but Gatsby tries to convince her to leave Tom.
As the inevitable showdown between Tom and Gatsby rapidly approaches we find out how Gatsby acquired his fame and fortune and how much power and persuasion he has with high officials in New York. Tom obviously is suspicious of Gatsby and goes out to try to prove that he is not what he say he is. The love triangle reaches its climax with Nick on the sidelines watching what happens between all the parties that he has a different connection with each one and tries to appease all of them.
In the end the fame, fortune, high society and the power of what that period and city had to offer everyone also shows how it corrupts everything it touched who willingly accepted it or to the weak of mind.
Even though Nick feels that although Gatsby is a bit "in the clouds" for his own good he at least wanted to be happy and could live without in the end but that others around him loved what could be had in the material sense then what could be hand in the heart sense.
Verdict : Going in with no expectation almost always makes a movie more enjoyable. With that in mind thankfully Leonardo DiCaprio and Joel Edgerton are in this movie. Though the movie comes in at over 2 hours and 20 minutes it moves briskly with few slow spots but it does stutters a little whenever Leo or Joel are not on the screen. They bring the out best of the movie. Carey is more arm candy and window dressing than anything for the film but not terrible. Tobey is adequate as the narrator and I found him more interesting as that then when he was on the screen. The rest of the supporting cast did their job but without Leo and Joel headlining the movie would have felt flat. With that a slight said, THUMBS UP to watching this if you are Great Gatsby lover and/or a Leo lover but if you are neither you might find yourself bored and wondering why this is a beloved novel.