An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby’s nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.
Genre : Drama/Romantiek
Leonardo DiCaprio : Jay Gatsby
Carey Mulligan : Daisy Buchanan
Tobey Maguire : Nick Carraway
“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”
A long time ago every Saturday afternoon you could see an old movie on Flemish television. John Wayne , Danny Kaye, Charlie Chaplin, Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Clint Eastwood etc. were seen weekly in a black and white or in those faded 60’s Technicolor color movie. Regularly they played the old dance movies and musicals with well-known stars such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly, Samy Davis Jr. and many others. All situated in the 20’s with men in tuxedos and women who float around in expensive evening gowns and overloaded with glitzy jewelry. A paragon of wealth and decadence which was reserved for the happy few at that time. So I saw a lot of them passing by on the screen while dancing the Foxtrot. My hate and disgust for anything that smells like musical, has grown in that period. I skip each musical or dance film purely for the fact that they always start to sing or spontaneously start dancing for every trivial fact. Pancakes are made and you can expect there’s a serenade about this baking process. Or there’s some ordinary shopping done in a local supermarket, and before you know it, everyone dances a waltz in between the vegetables. Pfffft, I hate it.
“The Great Gatsby” itself is not exactly a true musical or dance film, but the decadent parties that Gatsby is organizing are dangerously close to it. I expected every moment an alignment of women dressed in swimsuits, extremely precise in a row, making a jump in sequential order and with deadly precision into Gatsby’s enormous garden fountain. And yet I didn’t like the choice of music. It didn’t really fit the whole of this movie. The beginning of the song by Jay Z (I thought it was him) mixed with images of New York and the display of wealth that some people possess, I found successful. But the music doesn’t fit with the swirling parties afterwards. In some way it clashed with the picture what you got in mind. And personally I thought that the interpretation of “Back and Black” was a blatant violation of the sublime song of Amy Whinehouse despite that Beyonce has a beautiful voice.
I haven’t seen any previous films directed by Baz Luhrmann. I only know “Moulin Rouge” and i obviously haven’t seen that for the well-known reasons that I already described above. It took some effort to get used to that airborne camera images in the beginning, but on the whole, his approach is sometimes grotesque. It looked all magical and fairy-like. Several times it had such an effect that was used in ancient times to emphasize a love scene or some magical moments. Those hazy and shimmering shadows around certain images. It reminded me sometimes of the first “Wizard of Oz” movie. The imposing and monstrous looking mansion of Gatsby looked like it was in a direct competition with the castle you can admire in Disneyland. So exaggerated. So it all looks decent and is terribly perfectly portrayed. The glamour of those days splashes of the screen, but at the same time, it all looks so fake. The computer animation department clearly had to do an extra effort. In terms of costumes for the characters, this film is matchless. Ditto for the props that can be admired throughout the film. From the Oldsmobiles that drive around until the furniture. In one word: masterful .
Tobey Maguire is the biggest flaw in this movie, I think. The fact that he’s a person who has to get over his alcohol problem and tells his story about Gatsby to a psychiatrist or physician, and at the same time has the appearance of a pubescent student, makes the whole rendition of Carraway totally unbelievable. By the way, I still think that his acting ability is limited to the sometimes silly staring into nothing, with such a moronic smile on his face . Leonardo DiCaprio also looks too young for his portrayal as Gatsby . In fact you may well expect that he would have a face that shows how difficult his live has been. But I think Leo does an excellent performance as the mysterious and extravagant billionaire . Maybe a bit too melodramatic . And the phrase “Old sport” does not fit completely with him. Besides it really started to get on my nerves after a while hearing him saying that over and over again. A disadvantage is that it takes a while before he comes into the picture and then Maguire needs to carry the complete movie. And that failed miserably . For me, Joel Edgerton who played Tom Buchanan, was the best actor in this film . The bravado and arrogance that he displayed was beautiful to watch.
I don’t think I’ve ever read Fitzgerald’s book. The content is actually a plain simple love story . The run-up to the meeting with Gatsby, I liked the most in this movie when Maguire moves into the small house overshadowed by the immense castle of the mysterious Gatsby. Once this is over , it’s really only a dull and ordinary love story and Maguire is relegated to a pathetic spectator of the flirting between Gatsby and Dais. Actually I expected more from “The Great Gatsby“. It’s is a damn long, boring and sad movie. I had problems keeping my eyes open. Nothing much happens in it. And if you’re planning to have a fun time watching a happy movie, you better look further.