Film Review: “The Great Gatsby”

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The Great Gatsby, 2013

dir. Baz Luhrmann


I love the beginning with the unlikely hero telling the tale of his misfortune, the exotic protagonist, the dancing and music and parties, the tragic ending that involves so many deaths, including that of a ginger woman–

No, I am not talking about Moulin Rouge!… They are pretty similar, though, aren’t they? Oh, Baz…

Nevertheless, I’d like to state for the record that The Great Gatsby is a widely enjoyable feature. It’s not one of those annoying book adaptations where the audience doesn’t have a clue what’s happening because the screenplay is shit (I’m looking at you, Michael Goldenberg and that joke you call Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, aka The Longest Book Turned Into the Shortest Movie of the Series).

It is an undeniable fact, though, that the best part of the movie was the score produced by Jay-Z. I normally don’t listen to that kind of music, but it was awesome! (shame the album costs £11) Some thought it would look awkward, a film about the 20s in the 20s with costumes from the 20s, but the soundtrack modern, but it worked! Really well! Mostly because the rhythm of period, all that jazz if you will, was so well-incorporated you would actually think that Kanye was part of the great pre-depression New York parties. Alas, he wasn’t, but we carry on. The soundtrack includes songs by the aforementioned Kanye (you may have heard of him, he’s quite small in the post-modern-hippity-hoppity-jazzy circles, *coughs*), Beyonce (it’s not nepotism if she’s fab), Lana Del Rey, Florence + the Machine, Gotye and more! It’s abso-fucking-lutely fantastic, and I just want to listen to it forever and ever and ever.

(the movie overall gets 3 starts, but the soundtrack gets 5)

Now, the movie. Hm. It’s not great. It’s not The Best Movie Ever Made. However, such film does not exist, and this is a perfectly good adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The voice-over with Tobey Maguire was really clever, the way it was done, I mean. And, as with all Baz Lurhmann features, it was visually stunning.

The green light, the all-seing eyes on the billboard, the written/typed words appearing on the screen (that was actually my favourite visual effect), all of that made it sort of extraordinary. It was like the whole thing was a dream, clearly a hazy memory of an alcohol addled brain. And the parties! Stunning, with fireworks, confetti, Champagne flowing. It pulls the audience in, makes them interested. It’s beautiful.

And the costumes! Oh. My. God. The freaking costumes! The Tony award winning designer Catherine Martin also worked in all the major Luhrmann films (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, Australia) and she is perfect. To the smallest details, the costumes are fantastic. The dresses are beautiful, the hair pieces are to die for, and the suits are just delectable. *fans self* All hail goddess Martin.

Moving on… if DiCaprio doesn’t win an Oscar for this, I will personally fly to Los Angeles and flick all the members of the Academy on the nose. Repeatedly. Until they get a nosebleed. Because this was, again, a brilliant performance by an exquisite actor. (do you know how upset I was that he wasn’t even nominated for his part in Django Unchained?) Gatsby is such an odd creature, filled with secrets and obsessed with Daisy, and what DiCaprio did was make his obsession clear, but not obvious. You could see it shaped like a tiny gleam in the back of his eyes, every time he looked at Daisy. And, personally, I think the scene with the tea in Carraway’s bungalow alone deserves its own category at the award ceremonies. Most Adorably Award Scene, maybe? Most Endearing Weirdos? How Good Does Leo DiCaprio Look in That Suit All Wet From the Rain? Yes, that is a good one.

The rest of the cast was amazing, of course. Tobey Maguire has finally managed to make it up to me after the dreadful Spider-Man 3. Carey Mulligan was perfect, as always, but I didn’t expect any less from her. And the rest, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki (which is all the more impressive, since this is her second ever feature film). Lurhmann did a great job in the casting of this film, and it was an enjoyable experience.

So, go on now, go watch The Great Gatsby.

review by Mariana Duarte


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