Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Great Gatsby

"Can't repeat the past? Why of course you can.."
I was so excited to see this movie because of my love for F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic of the same name. I left the theatre both loving this movie and slightly disappointed with a few aspects of the movie. LET'S DIVE INTO IT THEN SHALL WE?
Aspiring bond trader Nick Carraway (Maguire), moves next door to the super wealthy and mysterious Gatsby (DiCaprio), who throws incredibly lavish parties every weekend at his mansion in Long Island. Carraway eventually discovers that these enormous parties are merely attempts of luring his cousin Daisy (Mulligan) over, who is currently married to old money in the form of the cheating Tom Buchanan (Edgerton). Daisy and Gatsby were involved in a passionate relationship before World War I forced Gatsby to go abroad and serve his country.  (EXTREMELY BRIEF SYNOPSIS) 
LOL I couldn't resist.. Erm.. 

To begin with the positives, this film contained INCREDIBLE acting from everyone. Tobey Maguire tells the story of Gatsby as Nick Carraway with admiration, respect and nostalgia. His relationship with every character is fascinating to watch. Carey Mulligan brings to life the pain, confusion and love that exemplify Daisy Buchanan's character. Dasiy's pro-golfer friend Jordan Baker is portrayed perfectly by upcoming Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki. Joel Edgerton is the perfect actor to play as Tom Buchanan. He matched his shady personality with a unique love for both his mistress and his wife. Tom Buchanan's mistress Myrtle Wilson is played by the talented Isla Fisher who brings her own touch to Myrtle's iconic death. And last but certainly not least, Leonardo DiCaprio brought to life the true essence of the Great Gatsby, both the character and the story itself. DiCaprio's portrayal of Gatsby showcased his immense acting capabilities while driving home all of the themes present in Fitzgerald's classic. Every actor and actress brought their character alive in complete accordance with Fitzgerald's vision. 

Director Baz Luhrmann pays hommage to the novel by placing a large emphasis on symbols, imagery and the underlying themes of the story. Some of the more obvious symbols of The Great Gatsby are: Gatsby's car, THE GREEN LIGHT, The Eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, The Valley of Ashes..etc. Luhrmann does an wonderful job of exhibiting the importance of each of these symbols and his emphasis on imagery is extreme (something I love). When Nick Carraway first goes to the Buchanan mansion to visit his cousin Daisy, he finds her in a stately roomed bathed in white, with white curtains fluttering from the wind and sunshine pouring in through the room's many extravagant windows. This imagery clearly reinforces Daisy's innocence and perfection through Carraway's eyes. One can easily find the overabundance of imagery at each one of Gatsby's lavish parties, where different colored dresses and fireworks fill the screen with a exuberant and magnificent environment that exemplify the sentiments of the rich during the Roaring Twenties. This emphasis on imagery is something that I simply love in literature but adore when it leaps off the page onto the big screen. 

Luhrmann arguably goes overboard when it comes to the motion picture itself in regards to filming. There are certain aspects of his style that are not necessary for the film. I like the film's glossy appearance but the over-utilization of CGI and green screen were just a tad too prevalent in the film for my liking. They detracted from the nostalgic feeling of the Roaring Twenties when used in abundance. When Carraway and Gatsby are speeding from Long Island to the city in Gatsby's supercharged convertible, several of the back drops and background shots looked cheaply thrown in and unfitting for a film such as this. Several of the shots of Long Island itself and the Valley of Ashes reeked of CGI and did little to reinforce Fitzgerald's vision. Another very minor criticism I had was the soundtrack. Songs such as Lana De Rey's "Young and Beautiful" fit with the film PERFECTLY while some of the others  just did not exactly fit for me. They reinforce the timeless message of the story but there was just something about hearing Rap music in a movie taking place in the 1920s that just did not seem right..

Despite aspects of Luhrmann's style that seemed to go overboard, The Great Gatsby IS a pleasure to the eye the adequately brings Fitzgerald's classic story to life on the big screen. I highly recommend that you see this movie, you will not be disappointed.
"And so we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past."

Film Rating:
Very Good


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