Leonardo DiCaprio’s Biggest Adaptation Is A Streaming Hit

Leonardo DiCaprio's The Great Gatsby is top 10 on HBO Max this week.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Leonardo DiCaprio

These days, the internet has been putting Leonardo DiCaprio on blast for the growingly-creepy age gap between himself and his girlfriends. But that hasn’t kept his films from being major streaming hits, especially this week. For example, DiCaprio’s ambitious 2013 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is now in the HBO Max Top 10 for this week.

This particular Leonardo DiCaprio film was directed by Baz Luhrmann. Right now, the director is basking in some well-deserved glory for directing Elvis, a film that was nominated for a Best Motion Picture Golden Globe and is currently nominated for a whopping eight different Academy Awards. But his most relevant experience for bringing a literary classic like The Great Gatsby to life was Romeo+Juliet, another DiCaprio pic that updated the stale Shakespearean drama effortlessly for modern audiences.

While Luhrmann is a visionary director, his vision for this particular film kept changing. Originally, he planned to have Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and other stars shoot scenes in New York, creating maximum verisimilitude with the New York-set book. Instead, the director ended up shooting scenes in Sydney, Australia, which arguably help to foster the kind of slightly-unreal atmosphere he was going for in many of these scenes.

great gatsby cast

You might not even notice the scenery, though, because you’ll be busy staring at the immaculate wardrobe selection. The original novel was written to both celebrate and criticize the excesses of the wealthy during the roaring ‘20s, and the movie brings that vibe to life by taking modern high fashion pieces from companies such as Prada and blending them into a combination of cutting-edge cool and nostalgic charm. The result is that when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character throws a luxurious party, you get almost hypnotic scenes of beautiful characters, stunning fashion, and an almost-blinding assortment of colors.

For all of the effort, though, critics and audiences alike didn’t know quite what to make of the final film, though audiences were a bit more favorable. On Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave the film 48 percent, but audiences gave a more generous rating of 67 percent. Critics generally praised Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance while thinking Tobey Maguire was severely underused, while audiences generally enjoyed the movie as one long (especially at 142 minutes) vibe with flourishes such as an amazing soundtrack.

Perhaps the best reason to stream the movie on HBO Max, is that Leonardo DiCaprio is perfectly cast as the titular Jay Gatsby: in the original book, Gatsby is effectively new money, and he loves to flaunt it by throwing lavish parties and generally indulging himself. Seeing DiCaprio (an actor that we watched become rich and famous before our eyes) bring these literary parties to life, it’s almost impossible not to think of the actor’s own history of raucous partying, including a birthday party where he left a club with no less than 20 women and multiple insane parties in Sydney, the very location where The Great Gatsby was filmed. In short, seeing DiCaprio play someone whose love of decadent parties is exceeded only by his habit of wanting relationships with the wrong women is like seeing the ultimate method actor at the height of his powers.