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Sunday
May122013

Review: "The Great Gatsby"

This review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad


"Gatsby. What Gatsby?"

Daisy asks with a rush of girlish 'it can't be!' alarm, her nerves far overpowering the tiny glimmer of hope you think you hear in her voice. Which is as sensible a reaction as anyone could have when hearing about the arrival of another Jay Gatsby in movie theaters. You don't mean THE GREAT GATSBY, do you?

The F Scott Fitzgerald classic is a tough book to crack for filmmakers, its power so tied to its gorgeous (slim) prose, its subtle and cynical evocations and condemnations of American wealth and unspoken caste system. Further complicating adaptations is that the story is subjectively narrated. It's all told by Nick Carraway and his is, despite blood ties to the wealthy, an outsider's point of view. It's an easy book to love but a difficult one to adapt. But Hollywood keeps trying once every thirty years or so. 

The story, if you are unfamiliar (though you won't want to admit that out loud) follows the attempts of the elusive mysterious extremely wealthy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) to win back his lost love Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who he abandoned many years earlier while penniless to seek his fortune. More...

That sounds like something out of a fairy tale, but to the novel's credit Fitzgerald doesn't exactly take it at face value as a hero's journey; what's so heroic about vast sums of money used only for personal gain?

Gatsby buys up an estate in West Egg Long Island where he has a direct eyeline across the water to a similarly palatial home in East Egg where Daisy lives with her rich and shady husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) who is carrying on an affair with low class Myrtle (Isla Fisher) who lives above a gas station in "The Valley of Ashes" which director Baz Luhrmann stages like it's the 10th circle of hell. Gatsby throws decadent flashy parties hoping to lure Daisy in and seduces her cousin Nick (Tobey Maguire, our narrator) into helping him facilitate the reunion and really gets the party (aka the movie) started.

Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) seduced by the partying class

If you've seen Baz Luhrmann's 'Red Curtains Trilogy' (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!) you'll immediately recognize this as a Bazmark production. All the elements are there: zooming cameras, extremely opulent production design and costuming (by Baz's other half, his wife Catherine Martin), hyper editing which frustratingly doesn't fully let you enjoy said opulent production design, anachronistic celebrated song scores, stylized performances from famous actors, and repetitive looping screenplay structure (by Baz's other other half, his writing partner Craig Pearce). That Baz is both the right choice to helm a modern The Great Gatsby and all wrong for it is evidenced in the chasm between the big set pieces and the rest of the movie. 

The director's gift with stunning visuals sells Wealth as Intoxicating Fantasy superbly. The decadent party sequences with their contemporary music go a longer way in illustrating what was so roaring about "The Roaring 20s" better than most period pieces ever have. Baz has always had a flare for onscreen parties and understands how to drop you in among the revellers and leave you dizzy with excitement. Throughout the movie, Baz manages to make the parade of jaw-dropping wealth both funny -- as in Gatsby's attempt to pretty up Nick's place with truckloads of flowers "do you think it's too much?" -- and unnervingly dramatic, both in that same flower scene and later in a key sequence when the five main characters drive into Manhattan for escape, pre air-conditioning. They remain trapped by wealth, holed up in a luxury hotel with servants chipping away at ice to cool them down. (Shouldn't they have just gone for a swim outside their front doors?)

Jordan (Bedicki) and Tom (Edgerton). Totally uppercrust, old sport.

But Baz' approach only works in fits and starts because he hasn't adjusted it to the contours of the material. There are so many shots and flourishes pulled directly from Moulin Rouge! that The Great Gatsby starts to feel like a gratuitously odd remake of that hallucinatory musical. You half expect Kylie Minogue to pop up as the green fairy in an early drug fueled hotel party.

It's quite strange to see this (subconscious?) near-remake after Baz had professed that he was moving on from the Red Curtain Trilogy with Australia (2008), implying that his much celebrated (and detested) style was not so much his only way of expressing himself but merely a choice meant for those particular films. When Gatsby really needs to investigate the characters, or needs to breathe to make you feel it, it falls apart. Baz just can't stop tricking up the sequences with visual wonder and fireworks (sometimes literally). The driving sequences strike me as the most obnoxious in this regard, with much noise and 3D propulsiveness amounting to absolutely nothing.

One of Gatsby's last visuals, a play on a recurring visual throughout the movie, is a silhouette of Jay Gatsby in the green light of Daisy's shoreline. It's an arresting emotional image but Baz cuts away from it before it can achieve anything like the final iconic significance it should be aiming for. Daisy's entrance, another example, is teased by billowing white curtains, and just keeps on teasing. We get that she's a vision to Nick, and this luxurious world is bracing new air for him but it starts to feel like parody. Stop billowing, curtains! We totally see you.

But Daisy is a problem for any filmmaker and actress.

Novels have a much easier time than actors do at selling characters that are more narrated fantasy and ideal than fully realized human beings. Carey Mulligan, a gifted if already over-cast actress, aims high (I love the high affected voice, too fast to feel narcotized but too flat to be get her out of Stepford) but Daisy is still Daisy, more projection than character and how do you embody that? Newcomer Elizabeth Debicki is great fun as intimidating sporty Jordan Baker but she isn't given much screentime.

The male principals mostly end at capable with significant obstacles to greatness: Maguire is non-committal as Nick Carraway, never playing the choices the screenplay has made about the character from its odd framing device and Baz & Craig have entirely ignored Nick's (arguable) gayness in the book which is a strange missed-opportunity given the movie's love of modernization; Edgerton is as watchable as ever as the racist bullying Buchanan, but he reads less uppercrust than DiCaprio which makes for some weird friction with the themes and characters as written; DiCaprio, who looks fantastic as Gatsby and who was such a revelation as a young actor, seems to have calcified into an actor with a weirdly limited range of facial expressions - we've literally seen them all before with him. Not that his dialogue helps. His constant refrain of "Old sport!" which he says HUNDREDS OF TIMES would be tough for any actor to pull off but since Leo gives it virtually no shift in feeling or variety or subtext from scene to scene (Watch Streep's "That's All" symphony from Prada to understand how this is done) it's entirely grating and sure to be mocked in a YouTube super-cut the second this is available on Blu-Ray. 

Daisy & Jay alone in the middle of a crowd.

Though I've spilled hundreds of words detailing the problems with the new Gatsby, I would never trade Baz's Red Curtain Trilogy for the world. I just wish he'd let some of the epic Hollywood classicism he was aiming for in Australia (by most measures his least popular film) sink in to this new film to combat it's Moulin-Rougeyness. Like Gatsby and Carraway, Baz is too enamored by the wealthy leisure class to really see them for who they are. The fatal and most telling decision in this update is the reduction of the role of Myrtle (a game Isla Fisher) to tarty prop. She's nothing more than future roadkill in the scheme of things. In the end, Baz doesn't seem to care that the rich can get away with murder, but he most definitely cares about Gatsby's dreams of wrapping Daisy up in an ever greater cocoon of wealth.

 The Great Gatsby has been filmed once as a noir of sorts (1949), once as a creaky prestige piece (1974) and arrives to us now as a kinetic "Spectacular! Spectacular!" by way of Baz Luhrmann. But F Scott Fitzgerald's great American novel remains, for the movies, an elusive dream as tragically unfulfilled and in this case as shallow as Jay Gatsby's.

"I've just heard the most shocking news. They're totally adapting this again in 30 years"

Grade: C+
Oscar Chances: The boffo opening weekend at the box office will surely help it dodge the not so ecstatic reviews. It's worth noting that the 1974 film version (just discussed) was a hit at the box office despite no one loving it and in the end it won two Oscar nominations and statues to go with them (Costuming and the now defunct category: Original Song Score or Adaptation). Much will depend on what the rest of the year brings but at the moment it's a good bet for Costumes or Art Direction (Catherine Martin hasn't missed a nomination for a Baz Lurhmann period film yet) and in the hunt for Original Song if Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" is deemed eligible. So in short, it could very well repeat the exact equivalent business of the 1974 film with the Academy. Wouldn't that be something? The rest of the Oscar categories will be tougher going and the chances of acting notices are virtually nill. Karen Black won the Golden Globe as Myrtle in 1974 but failed to procure an Oscar nomination but Isla Fisher in the same role in Baz's version is barely in the movie.

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Reader Comments (40)

Debicki's Jordan Baker was the highlight for me.

Other than that, I'm just glad to see a movie of this kind released in May. So tired of only seeing "oscary" films in late December...

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

We get it. You don't like Dicaprio anymore. Yet everyone else says he's the best part of the film. You're losing your touch, Nat. That's why you're having trouble keeping the site afloat.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertr

Totally agree on Leo looking fantastic as Gatsby. Totally rekindled my teenage crush on him.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

tr - i was JUST telling a friend here like an hour ago that the DiCaprio stans would come for me so thanks for fulfilling my prophesy so quickly!

travis - agreed.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

I've got to disagree with you on this Nat. I think Lurrhman's film is a lot more complicated than its flash and bravado, paritularily how the flash and bravado are meant to become dulling. I'll admit its not the greatest "film" if that's the standard its being held to, but it is a phenomenal adaptation because it keeps the depth and complexity of the novel's words, themes, and symbols.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJontruism

jontruism --hmmm. see i feel opposite. I think it was aiming for the depth but it really misunderstood the themes. but i think as a film it had a lot of strong elements and the flash was flashy flasherful. Baz is so good with the razzle dazzle.

May 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nat i totally get you on leo seems like a happier version of his shutter island character,it seems working with scorcese made him less fun,less open a bit like winslet after losing for eternal sunshine,something shifted in them both and the oscar hunt began,do u agree.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

What bothers me is that, unlike other great prose-y books, I think there's a very good movie to be made out of Gatsby. So much of the novel's impressionistic portrayal of loss, of confusion, and of people's impenetrability could all be beautifully made visible with the right auteur, but I can imagine it would be very difficult. Maybe in the next thirty-year go-around.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

I think it's a pretty failure. The first party scene at Gatsby's is outstanding - but as you note that's pretty much what we'd expect from Baz - and pretty much everything else varies between terrible and middling. The framing device is lousy, copying his previous work was distracting, and cutting the Wilsons' section was bound to create problems for how the story flowed. That said, the more I think about it the more impressed I am with Mulligan. A difficult character to play, and a wildly uneven adaptation, and yet I think she still knocked it out of the park.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

I haven't seen the film, so I'm not able to comment, but I feel the need to just say a quick thanks to Nathaniel for everything he does with this site. Very disappointing to read a comment like the one "tr" left and just hope you know that that opinion is the most extreme minority. Offering criticism is not grounds for personal attacks and that was truly uncalled for. Thanks again, Nat! You and the site are the green beacon of unnerving hope for all movie lovers!

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal

I love, love, loved it! It was such a joy to escape and this film really provides escape--the music, the costumes, the sets, it's all so over-the-top in the best way. An unexpected summer blockbuster that happens to be a drama.

My favorite sequence was Gatsby showing Daisy his house and throwing the shirts, all scored to that amazing Lana Del Rey song, which should get some Oscar love--but probably won't.

And that was quite an entrance DiCaprio was given, wasn't it? People actually clapped when he came on the screen... it totally caught me off guard.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

This review has confirmed literally every fear I had from the looks of the trailer (and Luhrmann's past work). Sigh. Oh well. It's pretty I guess.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

tr, you 're alone in thinking that. Just wanted to throw that out there.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

"And that was quite an entrance DiCaprio was given, wasn't it? "

I kinda want someone to do a mash-up of his entrances in DJANGO and GATSBY. And then put it on loop forever.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Watching the movie, I knew that I really ought to dislike it, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Gatsby is probably my favorite book, but for some reason that made me more forgiving, rather than less--really, it's almost impossible to make a not-compelling movie out of this story. And it was all so woozy and ecstatic and over-the-top romantic that I couldn't help but fall for it. Although I'm sure if you ask me in 6 months I'll tell you that I hated it.

And as a brief aside, the notion that someone who writes film criticism--probably the most subjective thing there is--can "lose touch" is what's wrong with the state of film criticism these days. Keep kicking ass, Nathaniel.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

Usually I agree with you Nathaniel, but I'm gonna have to disagree here. I agree that the framing device was lazy and uninspired and that Myrtle and Tom's affair plot was undercooked, but I thought everything else was fantastic. I thought Baz really captured and explored many themes and different aspects of characters and that he truly got to the heart of the story. I was also impressed with all of the performances. Of course, it was spectacular to look at as well. I went in expecting it to be a huge mess, but it ended up being my favourite movie of the year thus far, granted I haven't seen many. Even though I disagree with some of it, I really enjoyed your review.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

damn, i had my money on kylie minogue being the blinking green light on daisy's dock. disappointed.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

I agree with a lot here, and yet I feel like I walked away liking this movie more than you, Nat. Daisy is under-written in the novel and yet I agree with another commenter that Mulligan is great in this. Yes, she has the high-pitched voice, but I was also surprised when she lowers it. If you watch it again, notice how resonant it gets when she challenges Tom on something, or when she flirts with Gatsby. I think she has more range than she's been given the chance to show.

Plus, DiCaprio showering Mulligan with the shirts is the most youthful, radiant and adorable he's looked in, what, 10 years?

My other problem with Luhrmann is the score. I think if he stuck with either remixed classics or contemporary hits made retro (like "Crazy in Love") it would have been fine. But he threw in songs without apparently thinking about them. During a melancholy moment when we see all the headlines about Gatsby's money spinning toward us, Beyonce is singing this from Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black": "You love blow and I love puff." Um, what? That's about drugs. It just comes off so lazy and thoughtless.

Oh, and speaking of entrances, how about Edgerton's? Clad in those skin-tight polo pants (forget what they're called), the camera follows him from behind as he dismounts a horse, climbs a staircase and struts into his house. Thank you, Baz!

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I think Baz's biggest problem was that he hired his VFX guy to do the editing. What works about his Red Curtain Trilogy is that the freneticism is tempered by some magical quiet spells. And almost always the emotional content of the film is situated in the quiet spells. So you get razzle dazzle establishment of the world and relative serenity for the love story. In Gatsby, it never slowed down enough to let the feeling come in.

His biggest problem with the book is clearly what to do with Nick Carraway. Baz just wants to make a movie about Gatsby and Daisy, but he's saddled with a novel that is told entirely from Nick's perspective. I don't think it's that he missed the themes so much as he spends so much time fussing with Tobey that he barely has a chance to get to Gatsby. I thought he did a decent job with the novel's hopeless look on the American Dream once he got to it. It was just rushed and underdeveloped.

Quite liked Leo, even if he felt a bit mannered. A bit mannered is significantly better than what he's been putting out lately.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I'm yet to see the movie - and admittedly, based on my love for Fitzgerald and my aversion to post-Chanel-No.5-Luhrmann, I may just refuse to see it outright.

But I'm loving these comments.

"We get it. You don't like Dicaprio anymore. Yet everyone else says he's the best part of the film. You're losing your touch, Nat. That's why you're having trouble keeping the site afloat."
I mean that's just water-tight logic. FYC comment du jour!

Though I also loved
"I'll admit its not the greatest "film" if that's the standard its being held to"

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Nathaniel, I seem to only comment when I'm in full disagreement with you so I shall try to find something positive to say in the near future, but I do think its rather amusing how people fall into two camps with DiCaprio - way too serious and mannered and brilliant one of the great actors of his generation. I definitely fall into the latter camp and think with this and his performance in Django last year he is having a delightful time on the screen and delivered a one two punch that few actors could dream of giving. With Gatsby the range was really impressive. He gave us hints of the youthful performer he used to be while simultaneously displaying his gift for stoic drama, not too mention portraying to beautiful effect Gatsby's boyish obsession and vanity. Its one of his best performances. And I wish he would get some awards traction for it, but like Django before it I just dont think that is going to happen. He's having too much fun and the character ends up being a rather despicable. Oscar nominations that just does not make. At least in his case.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean

I really enjoyed it. It won't make much of a dent for the Oscars, and this was exactly the right time for them to release it. Actually I enjoyed it much more than reading the book, but I get the impression I'm in the minority in pretty much despising the novel.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Excellent review, N! Agree with everything, including a yearning for the younger DiCaprio. But he did look fine in the khakis and sweater in the shirt throwing scene.

Ryan T-- love the loop idea. It IS the same "I really am a movie star" entrance shot.

A couple of thoughts: Joel Egerton (like Guy Pearce in everthing) scared the shit out of me, like I wouldn't want to be in a room alone with him. Bruce Dern's portrayal served the character of Tom better in that he acted more like a privileged dick rather than a thug in tight pants. And Isla Fisher is naturally too pretty and sophisticated for Myrtle. (Karen Black did it well.)
And Tobey as Nick...I kept flashing back to the The Ice Storm, or Stingo in Sophie's Choice, or William Miller in Almost Famous or any number of characters who witness and narrate the crazy madcap adventures of folks they admire. Maguire didn't deliver anything fresh or nuanced. Not sure if Baz was interested in this character at all.

This film had several great scenes and I enjoyed the 2 hours but not sure this particular story was worth retelling (reimaging?) again.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

While I'm sad Gatsby didn't blow you away I respect your review Nathaniel. I understand that you must have been torn between your love of Fitzgerald' s prose and love for Baz's MR style spectacle. I was interested to read "I just wish he'd let some of the epic Hollywood classicism he was aiming for in Australia (by most measures his least popular film) sink in...". I one of the few who would admit to loving Australia which fared better at the Aussie box office than it did in the USA. The more sedate (for Baz) yet epic style and pace of Australia ,which allows for more character development, with just a touch of the Moulin Rouge glitz and glamour may have been a better fit for Fitzgerald's text.

While I'm making admissions I have to say I haven't read Gatsby. it's not essential reading for school kids in Australia and I chose Australian Women Writers of the 20thC over 20thC. Writers as a subject at Uni. I do have it on my kindle but decided not to read it until after I've seen the movie. So my heart won't be divided. I love the Bazmark spectacle and vision and for me whether I like the movie will be all about how well Baz does Baz.

Whether Baz is aspiring to the to the new money entertainment heights populated by people such as Jay-Z or fulfilling his financial responsibilities to Warner Bros he seems to have decided he wants to make it big at the Box Office. Or maybe he's being truly ironic or just truly Baz. I am astonished though to be following a Baz movie that's being hailed as a US Box Office hit in it's first weekend!

I will be seeing it in 3D because I love 3D. that's just me. Most people I know (apart from thinking that I'm crazy) have visual problems with 3D. When Gatsby is finally released here I intend on being fully immersed and will make up my own mind as to whether or not the film works as a movie experience. Because after all that is why I go to the cinema rather than stay at home in front of the teli or curled up with my kindle. Oh and I'm a Leo fan. He gets me into the cinema every time!!

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

Yep, totally get your dislike for DiCaprio now. Absolutely. Does it matter? Not to me. You're welcome to your opinion just as I am to mine. Frankly I can think of many actors who simply don't shine much as they age and become more famous, sort of enshrined as it were. Or maybe entombed is a better word. Gosling seems on the way there to me. He used to be so much more fun as an actor but now he seems mostly the same everytime I see him. But that's another story. Gatsby is okay and might be better on subsequent viewings. I never like to judge something on one viewing having learned my lesson from more than one theatrical experience.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteraustin111

I've seen it twice this weekend. Finally, a movie everyone can go to!

My favorite character is always Jordan Baker. I like her because she is a woman character who has an occupation that she does well, and she's one of the characters with a future. I really liked Elizabeth Debicki, and the way she was taller than everyone else (head and shoulders above the crowd). She had my favorite line "That was the day I got my new English golf shoes". That would be my choice for Hit Me With Your Best Shot.

As for DiCaprio, I agree with the Cinema Blend comments that neither I, or anyone among my female acquaintances, find DiCaprio hot. He seems, however, to be the go-to guy for directors who are casting a character that is emotionally stunted. Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoovet, Gatsby, emotionally stunted, with more power or money than is good for them, with a layer of rage and lunacy. At the end, we kind of thought, oh poor Daisy, what a close call she had getting involved with that criminal looney.

The first time I watched it, I saw more the two old friends, Maguire and DiCaprio, and how Maguire has matured and has a decent range. The opening section made him look like an old fashioned matinee idol. I lost patience with him when he idolized Gatsby at the end.

The second time through, I realized this was a win for the Australians in the cast. They are even more interesting the second time through. Edgerton is really great. He convinced me that he had truly loved Daisy and it was breaking his heart for her to say she never loved him. And of course, more Jordan would have been better.

And I want Nick's cottage.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I can confirm that Nathaniel did indeed think people would come after him with pitchforks. Of course, people like "tr" (anonymous, of course) are just plain ugly. Unlike the film, which is so very, very pretty.

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I was hoping that DiCaprio working with Baz again could bring out another side of Leo. Now I am thinking that maybe he should take a break or maybe take smaller movies, do different genres, or go out of character. I think of Joe Reid's compiled list of DiCaprio movie characters with existential crises. Time to stop turning that wheel.

And Maguire was always wrong for Nick Carraway. I was not surprised by not being taken with his performance but the way his face was filmed was rather... unfortunate.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Please, Nathaniel, tell me difference between this and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. My eyes, my eyes!

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Cal -- well, the easiest explanation is that Tim Burton is not a master of color (he works best in black and white) and Baz is very much a colorologist so he can control his palette.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

You really thought he looked good as Gatsby? The age difference between him and Mulligan was a little unsettling for me, honestly. I thought the flashback scenes were just ridiculous - Mulligan looked every bit the 18-year-old Louisville belle all the dashing officers would try to woo - DiCaprio did NOT look like the soldier who would sweep her off her feet, though. I wonder why they didn't just have the young actor do those scenes, as well.

DiCaprio should "go out of character"? If Gatsby, Calvin Candie, J. Edgar and Arnie Grape are the same old DiCaprio character, which "out of character" character do you think he should take on to prove his range?
Not liking him, that I get, but saying that he plays the same character - that´s nonsense. Unsurprisingly, I don´t agree, either, that he has a limited range of facial expressions. I mean, seriously - between Billy Costigan and Calvin Candie, a limited range of facial expressions?
Of course he is not as lively and beautiful as he was when he was a teen. How could he be? Why should he be? But it seems like some people can´t forgive him for not being Jack Dawson anymore - while others can´t forgive him for having been Jack Dawson.
I never cared for Titanic, myself, but I look forward to every new role DiCaprio takes on. It´s a great ride.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSam

"If Gatsby, Calvin Candie, J. Edgar and Arnie Grape are the same old DiCaprio character..."

Hold it. Arnie Grape was years ago and a performance I really admired. His best performance to date. And if you are implying that Candie and J. Edgar were well portrayed, then yes, we are worlds apart.

I agree with Nathaniel. You see the facial tics, you see the gears in motion and never feel like you are entranced in a believable illusion.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

If anything, I think Luhrmann amped up Nick's gayness. The film removed Nick's relationship with Jordan and made him the only attendant at Gatsby's funeral. Remember: Gatsby's dad shows up at the end of the book, at once marveling at and mourning for the luxurious and isolated life his son built for himself. That shot of Nick crying on the steps above the casket was a little too on the nose to ignore in that respect. And the only scene where Nick shows any romantic interest in a female character, he's basically been drugged and raped. I have a feeling academics will be picking over this movie for years to come in LGBT studies classes.

Personally, I was not impressed by this adaptation. DiCaprio is very good in the part, but his efforts are lost amid the chaos. The party scenes were fun, but it got tiresome when the party never seemed to end. Every emotion, every subtext, every symbol, every bit of dialogue and every music cue was played at 11. I didn't watch it in 3-D because virtually all 3-D movies give me a headache, but even in 2-D it was distracting how much stuff Luhrmann threw at the audience to justify the added expense.

Luhrmann was not the right director for this movie, at least from an artistic standpoint. I would've liked to see what Alfonso Cuaron could have come up with. Cuaron knows how to use flashy visuals without them overwhelming the story (see: Y tu mama tambien and Children of Men and A Little Princess).

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

""You see the facial tics, you see the gears in motion""

coughMerylStreepcough

I'm sorry, but I'm not the Biggest DiCaprio fan here, but you could say that about almost every other respected actor. Everyone has their favorites and non favorites.shrug.

The Great Gatsby was not perfect, but I liked it a lot. I thought that DiCaprio and Mulligan were both great.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

tyler winslet -- i didn't say he looked the same age as Carey just that he looked GOOD. I was kind of relieved actually because i personally think male stars should be held to beauty standards as rigidly as female stars are. I mean if they're are gods and godesses they ought to look the part and DiCaprio hasnt looked this good in a movie in a long long time. Catch Me If You Can maybe?

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

Oh! So they have removed Nick and Jordan's relationship, so that leaves me without their beautiful break up scene at the Plaza-its achieling beautiful, that scene.

Also, no Gatz at his son's funeral? It adds so much and the father's reactions are so beautiful and moving and human, the pride, the sadness, the agony and disapointment when he realizes no one will show up.....

Ok I'll probably hate it.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I'm very much with you on this one. There are stellar moments, but not much in between. Also, this movie made me nervous about DiCaprio's career. I do think he is a man of limited roles, able to only convincingly play emotional extremes, be they of utter confidence, fear or confusion. As Gatsby, he's good as the arrogant soul, entirely empty as the conflicted one.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

The 1949 version is a great movie I bought it from the first site listed below. Thanks

www.dvdsentertainmentonline.com/product/the-great-gatsby-dvd-alan-ladd-betty-field-1949

www.vendio.com/stores/OldTimeMoviesandTV/item/dvd-classic-tv-and-movies-dvd-/the-great-gatsby-dvd-alan-ladd/lid=5985145

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpatrick

Good stuff. Really took a lot out of the review.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralexraphael

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