10 June 2013

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby 2013
  • Director: Baz Luhrman
  • Based on the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Debicki, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Leonardo DiCaprio – What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Romeo and Juliet, Marvin’s Room, Titanic, The Beach, The Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, Shutter Island, Inception
    • Carey Mulligan – An Education, Public Enemies, Never Let Me Go
    • Tobey Maguire – The Ice Storm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pleasantville, Cider House Rules, Spiderman
    • Joel Edgerton – Ned Kelly, The Night We Called It a Day
  • Why seen: Baz Luhrman, read-book-see-film
  • Seen: June 9, 2013 with Hal, YW, IA, B-IS, ÖB, and KW at a movie theater in Stockholm

When we saw a trailer for this film a couple of months ago I thought, “Why is Luhrman doing this?! Why isn’t he doing another Shakespeare?!”
I have spent much of my book-reading life resisting reading this classic, for some reason. But when both YW and IA said it’s one of their favorite novels I said, “OK! OK! I’ll read it!” Both Hal and I did.  And…we have to admit, it’s a good book.
But reports on the movie have been very mixed. We were curious, to say the least, to see how we’d react. 
The reactions were, in this group, and in me, just as mixed as the reports.
Loud, is one word that comes to mind.  Extreme, is another. Extravagant. In your face. Off the wall. If the book has an almost minimalist feel in the pared down sparseness of the literary style, the movie is what you could call maximalist. Somehow, that works just fine.
But I simply can’t decide if I like the movie or not. It has a very similar feel to Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet, which I love. It’s perfect.  And I can see how Luhrman wanted this classic story to work in the same way. It does. It does.  And yet.
DiCaprio was great as Romeo.  Is he great as Gatsby? I don’t know. Carey Mulligan was superb in Never Let Me Go.  Is she right for the role of Daisy? I don’t know.
Does the music work? Yes. Compellingly so. As in Romeo and Juliet the aggressively modern music is a part of making the story timeless and connected to no specific era.
The heartlessness, the decadence, the sickening wastefulness of the rich and the emptiness of their lives are made painfully clear.
More adjectives: dashing, exuberant, opulent. Breathtaking.
Is it a movie to be seen again? Definitely.
Is it a movie to love? I don’t think so.  Not yet, anyway. Maybe next time.

3 * of 5? 4* of 5? Something like that.

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