The Great Gatsby Reviews
In the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) chases his American Dream by leaving the innocently quiet Midwest for the bright lights of big city New York City.
In early summer, Nick rents a house in Long Island, across the bay from his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and her philandering blue-blooded husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton). Adjacent is a mansion owned by the mysterious, party-giving millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Promptly joining the islands prominent social-circle, Nick is captivated by and drawn into the lavish lifestyle of the super-rich, bearing witness to their extremes of illusion, love and deceit. Through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, Nick is inspired to pen a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams, obsessive madness and high-octane tragedy.
An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, The Great Gatsby as relevant now as it was originally in 1926, holding the proverbial mirror to our own modern times and struggles. Visually a fantastical spectacle of beauty, from people to costumes, settings and locations, these cinematic tools hold viewers at arm- length, never allowing you to be profoundly moved or even feel the beat of films heart
DiCaprio is perfect as Gatsby, always striking the right balance between showy and disturbed but seems at times somewhat denied his own dramatic choices. Mulligan doesn't find the mark between vulnerable and overt as easily, and lacks passion with her leading man. Maguire's role although rather wimpy and insipid is carried off by his sheer belief in the character.
The Verdict: Sadly, the press' foreplay of hype was to the films detriment. Whilst listening to the departing crowds, there was an obvious sense of disappointment, a longing for an emotional movement that never came and a general sense of disconnect as the director hid behind the excess that threatened to overwhelm.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 31/05/2013
The movie begins with a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle of wealthy New Yorkers during the roaring twenties. With the stock market booming and morals loosening, liquor was cheap, and partying was prioritized over all. Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), the observant and emotionally troubled narrator, has just moved to West Egg to chase the America dream on Wall Street. His cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) lives across the bay with her husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton). Not soon after Nick moves in, his mysterious neighbor, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), takes an interest in him. Gatsby informs Nick that he has been in love with Daisy ever since he left for the war five years ago and hopes to win her back now that he is no longer penniless. Gatsby has returned to West Egg as a mysterious bootlegger whom no one knows personally. The film follows Daisy and Gatsby while they reunite and attempt to rekindle their love amidst a world filled with shallow socialites, secret affairs, and of course, money.
Originality is undoubtedly present in the film, but the director also succeeds in staying true to the story's authentic plot and famous symbolism. Like many other stories, not every aspect of the book makes its way into the movie rendition, but Luhrmann and screenplay director Craig Pearce pay attention to detail and character interaction. The original, surprising plot of the book is hidden amongst the flash and flare of the 2013 version, but it is in fact there. The green light shining across the bay from Daisy's house symbolizes what Gatsby is most known for, everlasting hope that the past will repeat itself. The on-screen relationships between each character provides a realistic look into the exclusive lives they live in New York's upper class. Gatsby is genuinely interested in becoming friends with Nick, instead of just using him to gain access to Daisy. Gatsby's compassion makes him stand out within the superficial society he has planted himself in. Effective portrayal of the protagonist and antagonist in this film allows for the audience to truly root for Gatsby while he attempts to win Daisy back.
DiCaprio plays Gatsby perfectly in a sense that he is alluring and captivating. When Gatsby is feeling confident, DiCaprio's faint smiles and smirks make his performance exciting to watch. His famous blonde hair and blue eyes make him appear much more full of life and love compared to his character's "opponent," Tom Buchanan. DiCaprio delivers his lines, including his favorite phrase "Old Sport," with a small hint of an English accent. Carey Mulligan's performance as Daisy is also quite impressive. Her charming tone of voice while she excitedly speaks reveals just how flattering and flirty her character truly is. Mulligan's petite size and innocent expressions allow for her to be easily objectified and controllable to both her character's love interests.
This terrific piece of cinematic artwork promotes the overall greatness of the novel and does not for a second allow the audience to take their eyes off the ever changing, fascinating screen. The lavish use of movie magic compliments the lifestyle of these intriguing characters and does not over shadow the famous, classic plot of The Great Gatsby.
Director Baz Luhrmann was not really interested in the story so much as making this film an overblown, immense and trashy visual spectacle. He only used the story as an excuse to throw a big party and have a lot of fun and not care too much really about what was going on. Why he did this- I just do not know, or can I understand. What is the point of making the movie for that reason? I don't know- or maybe he didn't- but that's certainly the impression I and I'm sure a lot of other people who have seen this film got out of watching it. The production values completely overblow anything else happening in this movie. The visuals draw so much attention to themselves that you get the feeling that Luhrmann was more interested in the production rather than the story.
It's not a bad film- I can't call it that because I would be lying. The cast is terrific here- they are all fabulous and deserve recongition. British actress Carey Mulligan is very strong in her portrayal of Daisy Buchanan, the most complex and veiled character of this story.
The visuals are very strong (what to expect from Baz Luhrmann) and for its visual technical achievements, it should receive a few Oscars. But I will have a hard time remembering this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless novel. It's what it puts itself out to be- it's just another event, just another movie, just another fun party. It's a meaningless film- no matter how good the performances and visuals are.