Will Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby Get Daisy Buchanan Right?

What Women Really Think
April 10 2013 3:39 PM

Will Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby Get Daisy Buchanan Right?

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Carey Mulligan will play Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.

Photo by Luke MacGregor/WPA Pool/Getty Images

We've known for a while now that Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby would be full of gorgeous spectacle (because that's what he does best) and would afford Leonardo DiCaprio a chance to chomp scenery with great gusto (because, increasingly, that's his schtick). But the latest trailer for the period extravaganza has interested me in how the movie will handle a difficult character, the object of the story's actions, the opaque—and often assumed to be empty-headed—Daisy Buchanan:

Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy, is an actress capable of expressing extraordinary longing. And when she tells DiCaprio's Gatsby, "I wish I had done everything on Earth with you," a line that doesn't appear in the book, she nails the character's conundrum. Daisy wants to be someone who is romantic, who cares about adventures more than propriety, who is brave enough to actually not go home to her husband, Tom, when she tells Gatsby she wants to stay. If Tom's tragedy is that he's too much of a boor to want these things—content to remain among his familiar experiences and prejudices—Daisy's is that she wants them but doesn't have the courage or the passion to pursue them.

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"Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?" Lana Del Rey sings over the trailer. If Gatsby's looking backward, Daisy might be as well, to a time when her value was assured and when it was still possible for her to dream of doing "everything on Earth." Luhrmann may be known for razzle-dazzle, but if he can get us inside Daisy's head and make her a person rather than simply an object of competition, he'll have done something really special.

Alyssa Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate’s “XX Factor” blog. She also contributes to ThinkProgress and theatlantic.com.