Saturday, May 25, 2013
3 Thoughts on The Great Gatsby
1. The good stuff - This is definitely a movie that is filled with both good and bad elements, so let's start with the good: First, Baz Luhrmann knows how to throw a party. He is the perfect person to bring Gatsby's grandiose, extravagant celebrations to life. I didn't see it in 3D, but I imagine that this is where the 3D was used (I can't imagine it being useful for anything else in the movie), but even in 2D, it is in-your-face spectacular. There was so much detail and depth to these scenes that I wanted my own personal pause button in order to look at every frame in detail. Second, the biggest reasons that these party scenes worked is because of the amazing soundtrack; I've had it on repeat for weeks. The music kept the film afloat, keeping it fresh and modern...and alive. It was also, sometimes, very jarring (the best example of this is when when a car, from the 1920's, whizzes by blasting "H to the izz-O...". It made me laugh for hours). Third, Leo is absolute perfection as Gatsby.
2. The bad stuff - I usually try to convince myself that the "good" of a movie will always outweigh the "bad" of a movie, but in this case, the bad just weighs down the movie. The worst part is Tobey Maguire, and this is coming from someone who is usually a fan. He gets criticized a lot for being "awkward", but for me, his awkwardness is usually appropriate for the roles. It's not, in this case. Instead, it is painful. His narration just caused even more pain. Second, obviously, the novel would be edited for the movie version, but I'm not sure I liked what was added (the psychiatric hospital) and I absolutely hate what they took out (Nick's relationship with Jordan - who is, by far, a more interesting female character than Daisy). Third, like the novel, the movie just takes way too long to get to the point. The ending is superb, but by the time it comes around, I hardly care anymore.
3. Everything in between - First, I would say that aside from Leo's fine performance and Tobey's flat-lined performance, everyone else lands in the middle. Joel Edgerton was a little too caricature-like as Tom Buchanan, while Isla Fisher was miscast completely, but she did her best. And, I FINALLY figured out why I am not fully on board the Carey Mulligan express train!!! I like her, I really do...but there was always something that bothered me about her. While watching this, I have come to realize that she is one of those girls who ALWAYS seems like she's on the verge of tears. I picture her as one of those really annoying girls that get super emotional and attached after sex, and I have a hard time relating to girls like that (I would still totally have sex with her, I would just ensure that I had an exit strategy). This underlying sadness works with the characters that she plays - and it works here too, it's just such a repetitive character for her, at this point. She did a fine job with the role of Daisy, but nothing spectacular. It's probably because I've never been a fan of the character to begin with - a weak, indecisive, self-important, spoiled girl that I just want to shake some sense into (this is also why I am disappointed with the cutting of Jordan's role. I love the contrast between these two women). Second, I was really hoping for more! Much more! I wanted to be blown away and I left the theater feeling really empty. I liked it, but I don't think I would recommend it to anyone unless they are a fan of Luhrmann. It's also not a movie I would watch on multiple viewings (unlike Romeo + Juliet, which I have seen at least 100 times).