Movie Review: The Great Gatsby (2013)

So far I am 3 for 3 in liking movies from Baz Luhrmann, with the only two I have not seen being Australia and Moulin Rouge!. It took me a couple of watches, but I did end up really enjoying the oddity and wonder that was made into Romeo + Juliet, and sadly, I didn’t know he directed Strictly Ballroom till today, but I remember being quite intrigued by it as well. So going into The Great Gatsby I was quite excited, and it didn’t hurt the story captured me as well.

Nick Carraway is a mid-Western war veteran who travels out east to live for a bit, and when there he meets up with his cousin Daisy to find a lavish lifestyle he’s never been apart of. He can’t help but notice one familiar name that continues to pop up in conversation causing anger in some, and love from others. Daisy in particular seems to stumble on his name, and that is Gatsby…Jay Gatsby. Nick is invited personally to one of Gatsby’s huge parties, and not long after finds out why Gatsby has an interest in his association, to win Daisy back from her husband, Tom.

Either you like Luhrmann’s directing style or you don’t. It’s what you expect and more from him though. Lots of color, costumes, memorable music, and now CGI created sets. Probably, the focus on making it 3D takes away from it some because you can tell many scenes were made that way for the people watching it in 3D, but the romantic atmosphere and over the top parties come together well to really create the world of Gatsby.

Leonardo DiCaprio without a doubt is the highlight of the cast, as he should be since he is Gatsby. He seems to have studied the character greatly to bring him right from the page to the screen though. He has the personality down, and even gets it right down to the smile. Carey Mulligan is Daisy, and if you disliked her from the book then you’ll find Mulligan’s performance quite spot on. There have been complaints she is too ditzy, and not very deep, but I never concluded Daisy as anything deeper in the book than what she was in the movie. Ultimately, a woman wanting a security. Joel Edgerton portrayed his character Tom well, but it seemed someone forgot to write in more scenes than just ones of him being angry most the time. From the moment he meets Gatsby he is just mad. The weakest of the group is Tobey McGuire, and there are probably quite a few actors who come to mind who would have been exceedingly better. For example, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. There is something about him that wouldn’t outshine Gatsby, but you know he would have given a great performance. McGuire just is bland.

With the help of the chemistry between Mulligan and DiCaprio this movie becomes fireworks. Many will note that the music is a bit ahead of the time of the movie, but I believe the reason that modern artists were called upon to make the soundtrack is because the director really wanted to fuse in the emotions of the love story, and make the parties realistic to just how grand they were to a modern audience. While I’m sure those parties would look fun and grand with music from the time, people’s perception of how we perceive those things have changed, and with that he brought in a little modern in the form of music.

The Great Gatsby is like the trailers you’ve seen for it, so depending on how you responded that might be how you feel watching it. There is something about the energy and tone that just captures though. It builds up and gets real dramatic before the end, and in some ways the director does bring out important visual aspects of the novel like the emphasis on colors.

Rating 9 of 10.

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