The Great Gatsby

Great Gatsby
For Mother’s Day, instead of sending Maya off to an AP U.S. History study group with her friends, we went to see ‘The Great Gatsby’ and then out for dinner.

We both really liked Gatsby a lot…especially Leonardo DiCaprio, whom I think was a far better, more vulnerable, weaker Gatsby than Robert Redford. And at heart, Gatsby is a weak man surrounded by tough guys, trying to finally grasp his unattainable dream. Carey Mulligan does a fine job as Daisy Buchanan, though she didn’t seem quite sparkly and shimmery enough to me. Daisy should be Champagne bubbles tickling your nose, and Mulligan is more like a serious Chardonnay. I liked Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway….he seemed enthralled (actually, perhaps a little bit in love) with Gatsby, willing to overlook his obvious flaws in his admiration of Gatsby’s eternal hope and optimism. Joel Edgerton was perfect as Tom Buchanan, quite the bully, the snob, wanting to have it all his way.

But the stars of The Great Gatsby are the language, the spectacular visuals, and the music. First and foremost is the language, which is difficult to translate into film. This problem is solved by jumping the film forward a few years, and having Nick write his issues down for his therapist. Because Nick is using the written word, we get some of the spectacular wording and phrases from Fitzgerald’s novel. Some of the very best parts.

The visuals were indeed spectacular, flashy and grand, just like the 20s. They were perfect. I’ll admit we didn’t see it in 3D. I have no use for 3D, and can’t say honestly that it has ever improved a movie for me. It always stands out and makes me notice the 3D (even Avatar), rather than staying in the story. The music had me a little nervous going in, but it was actually perfect. Gatsby is a very modern story, very aware of the excess and craziness of the era. Bringing some of today into the film, through the music, seemed like a really good idea to me.

I really, really recommend it. If you’re at all interested, go for it. Maybe try to get there a little earlier, so you don’t have to sit in the front row. It’s popular.

This entry was posted in Movies.

4 thoughts on “The Great Gatsby

  1. I’m so glad that you went to see this before I did and that you reviewed it here. You are a sensitive reviewer, and I respect your opinion.

    When I heard that this treatment would be 3D, I was puzzled. I cannot imagine why, but like you, I am not a big fan. To me, it is distracting, like a pushy narrator in a poorly written book.

    It’s a little disappointing that the director or screenwriter chose the vehicle of having Nick in a therapist’s office or sanitarium to tell this story. After all, he was the one “sane” person in the book, knowing that returning to the Midwest was all he needed to re-ground himself and get back to real life.

    I do like your observation that Nick was enthralled and a little in love with Gatsby. Oh, he absolutely was. My students always wanted to talk quite a lot about that. Thanks again for the review. I can’t wait to go and see this film.

  2. Ditto what Nance said. I see very few movies in the theater, but this one I plan on seeing there. I always loved this book. Thanks for the review.

  3. Sigh, I disliked reading Gatsby, for some reason I kept getting bogged down in all the Eastern terminology. I remember thinking, what the hell is East Egg? This was pre-internets, mind you.

    But I do like a lot of Baz Lurhmann’s stuff, so I will probably see it at some point or another.

    And somehwat impossibly, I am finally liking Leo DiCaprio as an actor. I think it was Inception that did it for me.

    • Gina, it sounds like your first Gatsby experience was a lot like mine. I got bogged down and then spent too much time looking for symbolism and so on. But reading it again, in my 40s, was completely different. Also, had the internet, so I could look and see that West Egg and East Egg were just fictional names that represented a real area of Long Island. I REALLY enjoyed the book this time around, and the film as well. I hope you do give it a try!

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