Story

Based on the classic American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby is set during the roaring 20s in New York. Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire) is a young banker from the Midwest who has recently moved to New York. He is intrigued by his mysterious neighbour, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who lives in a lavish mansion overlooking the lake between Long Island and central New York. Nick is gradually drawn into Gatsby’s world, where drinking too much and going to outrageous parties are part of a dazzling and extravagant lifestyle.

Nick soon learns that Gatsby’s interest in him is because of his (Nick’s) cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Gatsby fell in love with Daisy before the Great War, but she is now married to Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Gatsby is originally from a poor home and has set out to make millions since the war to win Daisy’s heart back. But his obsession with her ultimately leads to madness and tragedy.

Themes

Obsessive love; adultery; addiction

Violence

This movie has some violence. For example:

  • Buchanan hits Myrtle, his lover, hard around the head during an argument.
  • A partygoer is thrown out of a party and beaten up.
  • Gatsby attacks Tom while having a fierce argument over Daisy.
  • George Wilson beats Myrtle up quite badly. Myrtle then runs out of the house on to the road and is killed by a car.
  • Buchanan fights with Wilson.
  • Wilson shoots Gatsby and then shoots himself by putting the gun in his mouth.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

This movie isn’t suitable for this age group.

From 5-13

This movie isn’t suitable for this age group. 

Over 13

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Characters behave in crazy ways at alcohol-fuelled parties.
  • There are several fast car races in which people drive cars recklessly and dangerously.
  • Myrtle is shown dead and bleeding on the ground.
  • Gatsby is shown at the end of movie floating dead in the water. 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references. For example, Tom takes Nick to a party that turns out to be an orgy. Girls start stripping off their clothes and drinking out of wine bottles. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters often drink too much.
  • Nick ends up as a depressive alcoholic in a treatment program.
  • One of the girls at a party pops a pill before kissing Nick. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has no nudity but it does show some mild sexual activity. For example:

  • Nick sits in the lounge listening to Tom and Myrtle having sex in the room next door.
  • A scene suggests that Nick has sex with one of the girls at the party.
  • Gatsby and Daisy have sex. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Great Gatsby is a highly dramatic movie, directed by Baz Luhrmann in his usual flamboyant style. The story is based on a classic American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald and is best suited to viewers over 15 years because of intense adult themes and violence.

The main message from this movie is that an unhealthy obsession will often lead to tragedy.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include trying to overcome poverty and hardship.

This movie could give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as how:

  • drinking too much can lead to alcoholism
  • making a fortune illegally can end in trouble.