F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, “The Great Gatsby”, has been taken into a vibrant, grotesque movie by the hand of Baz Luhrmann. And I never expected that such classic story was also adapted for a 3D movie, which at first I thought would be just too much. Critics seem don’t like it, because their reviews on this movie was mixed. I think I’m gonna be against them: I love this movie (but I don’t really like Luhrmann’s style), maybe because of the fact that I haven’t either read the novel or watch the previous movie. This is a saddening, sorrowful story of The Great Jay Gatsby, despite of its glamorous package.
SYNOPSIS > “The Great Gatsby” is a flashback story told by Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). Nick is a bond seller who moved into a gulf-side house. He didn’t expect that his rich cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), is living just across the gulf in a big house—or castle—with her rich husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). He also didn’t expect that he lived next to another castle owned by a mysterious neighbor named Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), until he is invited to a very bombastic party at night by Gatsby and becomes acquainted with him.
|Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, next to Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. They are real friends both on-screen and off-screen.|
REVIEW > In the first minutes, I didn’t really like “The Great Gatsby”. The way Baz Luhrmann presented the pictures was so weird, at least for me, due to the so much fast-paced editing and camera pan that make every scene looks too playful. Just like a visual novel. Then, “The Great Gatsby” was started with a glimpse of glamorous high-class life in 1920s, filled with numerous jazz and hip-hop music which is supposed to support the glam. It’s like an extravaganza. Finally, at first I thought I was like watching a long-form music video instead of a movie. Very experimental, it seems. Furthermore, “The Great Gatsby” was opened by introducing a character, Nick Carraway by Tobey Maguire, who didn’t attract me at all (more about the acting is in the next paragraphs). I thought that I couldn’t resist in watching this movie until the very end, until comes a character whose name is used as the title of the movie: Jay Gatsby by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Is it too much to compare the theme of “The Great Gatsby” that describes the life of Jay Gatsby, to that of “Citizen Kane” that describes the life of Charles Foster Kane? These two characters are similar but not exactly the same. And who would predict that all the vociferous, huge parties in that castle near the gulf were coming to a heart-breaking story of a lonely man named Jay Gatsby? This fact makes me so sad, even I deeply delved into this sorrow along the night after watching it. Of course, I will opt for appreciating F. Scott Fitzgerald more than appreciating Baz Luhrmann due to this impression I feel, because Fitzgerald’s story in his novel is undoubtedly a power of “The Great Gatsby”, compared to the way Luhrmann presented it using his style. Luhrmann didn’t always put the right atmosphere to the big mood of certain scenes, and he did it very terribly in the first half of the film. Luckily, near the end, everything turns out to be very impressive. I guess he has to thank his cast for this.
|Carey Mulligan as Daisy, and her husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton)|
Production design, costume setting, and soundtrack are three most notable technique aspects from “The Great Gatsby”. Well, the big parties in Gatsby’s castle were not always comparative to the movie as a whole (for me it seems like Luhrmann spends most of the production budget just for the party scenes, LOL) and it’s a little bit like in Wonderland. However, the totality of the art design deserves appreciation. The costumes in the 1920s, especially for the female character, were so interesting. And in the soundtrack department, we have Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, Jay Z, Kanye West, will.i.am, Fergie, Florence and The Machine, Gotye, Jack White, and more. But I think most of their songs were used in the first half of the film, where the vibrant rah-rah atmosphere was still mild. But, when the mood was going down, I guess “Young & Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey was the only one that supported the story nicely.
Look. I feel like I wanna dedicated this paragraph only to appreciate the acting of Leonardo DiCaprio, but... okay. I have to admit this: I fell in love with Jay Gatsby. Hahahahaha. The last time DiCaprio impressed me is when he played an antagonist in “Django Unchained” and in “The Great Gatsby”, I really really like his acting. He acted with charisma, making Gatsby a very likable character both as a leader and a lover. Great, great acting by Leo :’) Tobey Maguire, however, had no other task in “The Great Gatsby” beside as a narrator and a friend for Gatsby. Tobey Maguire is still the clumsy Peter Parker in natty costume of 1920s. Poor. Carey Mulligan successfully showed how she had turned from a little naive girl in “An Education” into a heart-throber darling in “The Great Gatsby”. She was sooo mature. Joel Edgerton also succeeded in being an antagonist and he could balanced his acting with DiCaprio’s persona. In brief, I think the ensemble cast is another prominent and helpful part of “The Great Gatsby” and again, I think Luhrmann has to thank them so much.
|Wonderland? No. It's just a party in Gatsby's castle.|
CONCLUSION > Many people commented that Baz Luhrmann is a wrong person to direct such a movie like “The Great Gatsby”. I’m not sure about that, but I agree that some other directors would make this movie so much more depressing and heart-breaking. A vibrant presentation which at first looks too prominent by style instead of substance, but goes to be so enthralling near the ending. I’m not sure that everyone likes (and understand) Luhrmann’s style of storytelling, but it is obvious that the story of Jay Gatsby is one of the most inspiring and depressing stories of all time. I salute you, Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio!
▲ Leonardo DiCaprio, great art direction, great story by F. Scott Fitzgerald
▼ Luhrmann's grotesque style, Tobey Maguire
THE GREAT GATSBY | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2013 RATING Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language RUNTIME 142 min GENRE Drama, Romance CAST Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki WRITER F. Scott Fitzgerald (novel), Baz Luhrmann & Craig Pearce (screenplay) DIRECTOR Baz Luhrmann MORE INFO