A Midwestern war veteran finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor (IMDB)
Writers: Baz Luhrmann (screenplay), Craig Pearce (screenplay), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Novel)
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton
Run time/Rating: 143 Minutes/ Pg-13
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn with Butter
I love Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”, it is a masterpiece novel that is worthy of movies to be made about it nearly 100 year after its creation. When it comes to the movie of “The Great Gastby” I wonder what it would be like to watch Scorsese’s “Gatsby”, or a rendition by Paul Thomas Anderson or Tarantino. I believe that the words of Fitzgerald should be brought to the screen by the best film makers of our time. If that dream were ever realized, even if all the filmmakers stayed honest to the story, It would certainly create a number of completely different films. I believe if I listed 10 of my favorite filmmakers and added Baz Luhrmann in that list, his rendition would not be my favorite. But after seeing how he did interpret and depict this story I can’t imagine that it would be my least favorite either. The Story, for those who have read it, walks a tight line between reality and imaginary. I say that amongst other reasons because the title character’s history is known by nothing but rumors and tall tales throughout. That is what makes the book so wonderful and also gives the opportunity for so many different presentations of the film. Luhrmann uses the fantastical aspects of the book as his base, grinds them up, adds a small part of the reality into the mix, then shakes it all up and showers the screen with the contents. It’s pretty amazing.
The movie follows the classic story very appropriately. It utilizes the trick of narrator Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire) retelling the stories of his lifetime as a part of a memoir he is completing in an asylum many years later. I suppose this was an easy way to maintain a narrator in the story and although it might be considered cheating to add that element in, it works well enough. The narration leads the audience to the prohibition era and into the homes of the east and west egg and puts a face to the names of all the infamous characters; Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), George and Myrtle Wilson (Jason Clarke and Isla Fisher), Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki) Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and of course Jay Gatsby. Leonardo Decaprio radiates not only because of the finish of the film but even more because of his character choices, speech, mannerisms and of course looks. He is my favorite part of the film. Unfortunately, he is the only piece of the movie that stands out above the excessive use of CGI. In review of this movie, it is hard to avoid for even as briefly as I already have without mentioning the visual effects that are all of engaging, impressive and distracting throughout the whole movie. Similar to Luhrmannn’s Moulin Rouge it utilizes sweeping CGI cameras and computer generated crowds that although build a full and colorful set, also at times make you feel like you are paid 11 dollars to watch a big screen video game. As a plus, the finish on the film makes every shot and every character look like a touched up version of the best photo ever. DiCaprio visually shined in a performance that was made for as the charismatic Gastby. As a deterrent, the scenery, cityscapes and vehicles looked computer generated and at times even cartoonish. I thought the huge parties at Gatsby’s house were way over done and incredibly unrealistic. The parties in the book are fantastic, but I am never given the impression that they are a continuous orgy of dancing, music, confetti with crowds of thousands.
In a day where some of the best films are being adapted from novels only months after the books release, Luhrmann took a classic novel which is more than 80 years old and made it into a modern looking and relatable movie that will surely please most audiences. A worse version of this movie could have been made but this “Gastby” is also not as great as it could have been.
Medium Popcorn with Butter.