I hate to do this but how can one NOT compare the several Gatsby films to the novel on which they're based? The book has three outstanding features: (1) A somewhat disjointed narrative in which Gatsby is a man of mystery until half-way through, and then POW. It's like Hitchcock killing off Marian Crane in the middle of "Psycho". (2) A first-person narration by the naive but thoughtful Nick Carraway, whose prose sometimes edges sideways into poetry. And (3) a subtext about the death of illusions, romantic and otherwise, as they bark their shins against reality.
How does this TV version, from 2000, handle the story? Well, the mystery is over with in the first 15 minutes, when a flashback shows us the first meeting between the lovers Daisy Fay and Jay Gatsby. Daisy even gives him his fake name. (His real name is Gatz.) Any mystery behind the way Gatsby makes his living is likewise done away with, unlike the novel, which only hints at a slightly crooked source for his immense wealth. According to the film, Gatsby and his partners in crime forged bonds and sold them. Nick burns the documents at the end to save Gatsby from being labeled a swindler post mortem.
The prose, out of necessity, is clipped and trimmed for Nick's voice overs. Too bad. Some of the most famous lines are retained intact ("And so we beat on. . . ."). Others are pruned. "In his blue gardens, men and girls came and went like moths among the champagne and the whispering and the stars." In the film, "and the stars" is dropped, probably because the scene in which it's heard is shot during daytime, but it still leaves us wondering what moths are doing in the garden when the sun is shining. Much of this kind of surgery can't be helped in transposing a written work for the screen, but this movie doesn't give us much visual compensation for the loss of Fitzgerald's writing. Daisy's observation that "poor boys don't marry rich girls" is dropped. Daisy is wrong, of course. It's not just a matter of money, because Gatsby is now filthy rich. It's a matter of class and character. In Tom Buchanan, Daisy has found a companionate moral moron while Gatsby remains a parvenu.
The disillusionment -- well, Nick Carraway's disillusionment anyway -- is kept pretty much intact. It pervades the narrative, and the writers have wisely preserved the most relevant parts. Nick begins by telling us that when he was a young boy his father warned him against making hasty judgments about others, and Nick in fact avoids such judgments until the day of the somber "party" at the Plaza (or the Biltmore, in the film). He realizes on that occasion that today is his birthday. He's 30. A milestone age, when one becomes experienced enough, mature enough, to begin making judgments about others. And it's on this day that he realizes how worthless Tom and Daisy are, how stunningly and stubbornly romantic Gatsby is, and it's on the next morning that Nick tells Gatsby that "they're a filthy bunch." You can't repeat the past, Nick tells him earlier. "Why of course you can, old sport," replies Gatsby easily, wrapped in his fantasies.
The production, while not as splendiferous as the 1975 version, is good enough. The performances vary. Nick Carraway is okay, and so is Toby Stephens as the deluded Gatsby who mistakes high-end whoreishness for love. Myrtle is vulgar without being sensual. Wilson is adequate, no more than that. Mira Sorvino is miscast. She has a decent range as an actress -- eg., "Mighty Aphrodite" -- but she is not the frivolous, nervous, high-pitched, silly, careless Daisy of Fitzgerald's novel. She plays Daisy's love affair with Gatsby straight. She makes us believe that Daisy's whimpering submission to Gatsby's advances are a sign of something genuine, instead of an airhead getting it on with an old beau. And Tom Buchanan is miscast too. Tom Buchanan is an ex-athlete, a polo player now. The book emphasizes his musculature and his dominating demeanor. The actor, Martin Donovan, has done decent work elsewhere but here he comes across as whining and snide, not the kind of guy who commands his environment.
I wish I could recommend this but I think I'll recommend the novel instead.