Suspension of Disbelief: The Great Gatsby
I attempted to read The Great Gatsby a few years ago and couldn’t get into. For whatever reason I picked it back up a few months ago and loved it. The writing style of Fitzgerald is something I could read all day every day. I’ve been reading a lot of his other books ever since then. When I saw that there was going to be a new GG movie I was SUPER excited… even more so that Leo is in it. No one else would go see it with me – so I went alone. Here’s what I thought…
Title: The Great Gatsby
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Actors: Leonardo Dicaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey McGuire
If you don’t know the story of GG you’re not actually missing out on much. The main character is Nick who lives in the smallest house among giants. His neighbor is the infamous Gatsby. Nick finds himself getting a personal invitation to one of Gatsby’s incredible parties and eventually finds out that Gatsby would like Nick to arrange a meeting for himself and Nick’s married cousin, Daisy. Turns out Daisy and Gatsby have a history and on the story goes from there. As far as stories go, it isn’t that interesting. But again – the *writing*! But, unfortunately, this is a movie review.
The costumes were exquisite. The period pieces jazzed up were gorgeous yet modern. So much of what was on screen could be worn today. Some of the costumes were gorgeously over the top and others were perfectly understated (ie: Daisy’s white dress in her opening scene). The set was the same… the visuals of the movie kept my eye bouncing all over the screen falling in love with all the color, drunkenness and flirtation.
The script was incredible – but I would hope so… given that a lot of it was taken directly from the book. I was glad that they stuck to the majority of the original lines in the book, especially those classic moments like “I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Don’t listen to her, guys! You all are, and should be, much better than a fool! But it’s still a cute line that displays Dasiy’s naivety about the world.
The music… now, this will be a point of conflict. The music was like super modern Jay-Z, Fergie, Florence and the Machine… etc etc etc – definitely not period music. But this is one of my favorite devices in movies. I love it when the music doesn’t quite match what is going on. (My best friend and I shot a short film in high school with super up beat jazz music playing as an old man walk incredibly slowly past a restaurant window – I love that kind of stuff.) Joss Whedon does this a lot – like when River is dancing to celtic music while Mal, Jayne and Sheppard are having a shoot-out or when Loki goes into that ballroom and starts beating the shit out of people and there is classical music in the background… I love that. This movie had a lot of that. The music was new and modern. Sometimes it was startling but I really enjoyed it.
It was way. too. long. The book is quite a short read – but the movie was nearly 2 and a half hours long!!!! I was loving the movie and I thought it was just dragging on. It easily could have been 45 minutes shorter. It’s unfortunate the new typical movie length is so long – it pushes directors etc. to write/capture things that aren’t that interesting.
It completely lost the feel of the book. The characters has little to no on-screen romance between them and the main themes of bad timing, the shallow/emptiness of the upper class… etc… were all lost. Others were way too obviously displayed such as the watchful eyes of the doctor and the blinking green light – they were both overplayed as if to spell it out for the audience. I get that Luhrmann isn’t one for subtly but it was just unfortunate that the whole thing left absolutely nothing for you to sit and dwell on.
The acting was not all that great. I was most concerned about Carey Mulligan but she ended up being my favorite. The way her eyes sort of daze out and she does this lovely little smile was quite nice. But Tobey McGuire was absolutely dreadful – it was like watching someone just sort of float around in the background. He absolutely nothing to offer – this would have been cool if he was like that only when Gatsby was around but he was like that all the time. Leo as Gatsby was alright – I love Leo, but I think the lack of romance with Carey really deteriorated from the character as a whole.
Overall – I think it was alright. I certainly hope that people still read the book because it is way way way way better than this movie. But the movie was entertaining enough. I would only give it 3/5 Gatsby Cheers.