The 2013 Baz Luhrman adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is regarded by many as an over stylized, extremely dramatic mixture of glitter and blood. Probably this is the reason why it puts off so many viewers and earns such violent criticism. Yet I was recommended to watch it by at least eight people and I find that for me the movie simply makes its ridiculous flamboyance work .
The movie is set in America, in the 1920s in a fictional place. In the beginning our narrator Nick is introduced. He is in an asylum, where he tries to purge himself of his problems by writing about them. Nick’s traumatizing experiences evolve around a mysterious and infamous millionaire, Gatsby, who is Nick’s neighbour. Gatsby is also the ex-lover of Nick’s cousin, Daisy whom he fell in love with desperately five years ago. Gatsby built his whole life to be worthy of Daisy, and from a poor nobody he rose to excessive wealth. Gatsby now uses his dubiously gained enormous wealth to throw parties from which he remains absent, in order to lure back Daisy. She is unfortunately married to a certain Tom Buchanan. The marriage is not an idealistic one as Tom keeps a mistress. With Nick’s help Gatsby and Daisy reunite but can Gatsby make Daisy leave his husband for him? I do not wish to reveal the whole plot, and spoil it for the potential viewers.
The cinematography is very good, though sometimes maybe it truly tries a little bit too hard. For example in the party scene at Gatsby’s mason the movements of the guests appear too organised, and the music is intentionally too modern sometimes . Some scenes change so rapidly that it feels distracting. Still I really liked the special effects.
Framed by the gloom of the very beginning and the tragic second part, the atmosphere of the movie is otherwise bright, and it can make us laugh in a bittersweet way at the awkward displays of Gatsby’s ridiculous wealth, the pathetic dissimulation of shallow people.
Mostly I liked the acting. The movie operates with an excellent cast, even the smaller roles were memorable. Tobey Maguire is very convincing as Nick, who is a nice average young upper class man, who likes to stay in the background, but is very unique in his quiet, sensitive way as he takes the viewer in the midst of the affairs. He is instantly likable, and becomes even more so as the story progresses.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby really steals the film for me. He manages to display a captivating power and charisma and, at the same time remain touchingly human. His reunion with Daisy shows him utterly vulnerable. DiCaprio’s expressions, gestures are very intense. He indeed seems ‘Great’ even when his world crumbles and the desperation puts him in a state of mad self -deluding hopefulness, he remains charming.
Carey Mulligan does a good job as Daisy. Beautiful, sensual, flirty, and a bit shallow and self-serving. Edgerton as Tom Buchanan is truly a handsome, aggressive individual, whom I could not really hate in spite of his actions. Finally Elizabeth Debicki, in the role of Jordan, Daisy’s friend is worth mentioning. A cool, elegant, intriguing character.
The Great Gatsby is a movie worth watching. True, it is filled with dazzling, sometimes too hectic scenes, but they are balanced out with intimate, sensitive moments, acted out marvellously. It also makes the viewer want to read or reread the classic.
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