Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Great Gatsby (2013) - ★½

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce (Screenplay), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Novel)
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton

To me, Baz Luhrmann's 'The Great Gatsby' is as much of a  train-wreck as his other critically panned film, Romeo and Juliet.  I have not read the novel, but I will hazard to guess that this movie does not do the emotion of the story justice. You can see potential there, but Luhrmann focuses more on the visuals rather than the important stuff (once again). Yes, it's filled with amazing actors and a soundtrack that promised to be great. Instead, it contains uninspired performances and some of the most irritating songs to ever hit a 1920s themed movie. To me, this film was almost completely terrible.

A man named Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) moves to New York to become a stock-broker or something on Wall Street. His cousin is Daisy (Carey Mulligan), a beautiful girl who is married to a rich bastard named Tom (Joel Edgerton). Eventually, Nick meets a man called Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is said to have done many amazing things. We find out that he has a history with Daisy, setting up one of the most passionless romances I've ever seen on film.

"I'm so in love with Gatsby."
I think I'll start my scathing review on the characters. We're told over and over about how 'Great' Gatsby is, yet I didn't hear one thing that led me to believe that he's a great man. He came from a poor background, sailed with a rich billionaire, managed to get money through crime, and then throws party's every weekend. Are those great achievements? Does that make him a great person? Of course it doesn't. Apparently the motive behind his actions is what makes him so great. I didn't even find him to be a good person, let alone a great one. That's a major problem right there. However, he's called the Great Gatsby by one of the most frustrating characters I've come across in recent memory, Nick.

The main character Nick Carraway is a doormat and a fool in my opinion. He idolizes Gatsby and bends over backwards for him every chance he gets. It's like he isn't even a person, he's just a walking, talking doormat. Tobey Maguire is a pretty decent actor, but once again he shows hardly any expression on his face throughout this film. All this person does is follow two people around because he has nothing better to do. I mean, come on! It's very difficult to care about a story when the main character has hardly any personality at all.

Daisy 'feel sorry for me' Buchanan
For me, the most detestable character was Daisy. I don't know whether she's a weak fool or a manipulative bitch. They go on about how wonderful she is, but every one of her actions leads me to think she's just plain pathetic. Does she even think for herself? She's just another shell of a character, constantly being portrayed as a lovely girl who is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Well, she wasn't stuck at all, she had an array of choices. She had all the privileges a person could possibly want, and two men vying for her attention (one of which she was apparently in love with). In the end, nothing seemed to be enough for her. Oh, and she committed a heinous crime and got a way with it. Oh that poor Daisy!

No matter how good the acting was, they couldn't save the dialogue from being completely devoid of passion and romance. The story itself was pretty romantic, but the deliverance was just unconvincing. I'd say that's mostly to do with Baz Luhrmann's despicable adaptation of the dialogue, but I guess the performances themselves should share some of the blame. Like I said, there was hardly any emotion from Maguire. Meanwhile,  DiCaprio and Mulligan did nothing for me. The only one I liked was Joel Edgerton, but his performance was far from great.

Jay-Z knows how to ruin a soundtrack.
Now for the worst thing about the film... the soundtrack would have to be one of the most inappropriate in the history of cinema. It didn't gel with the film... in fact it made me cringe. There's something very wrong about Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" playing in a scene where they're only bringing cupcakes into a cottage. I mean, what the fuck? It's like Luhrmann gave Jay-Z free reign to do whatever he wants to the movie, so he incorporated as many hip-hop and rap songs as humanly possible. There was a golden opportunity to pay homage to such a jazzy era. There's so much material to work with, yet Luhrmann went with a modern choice. Well it didn't pay off, it just looked and sounded ridiculous.

The only redeemable quality in this movie for me would have to be the costumes and occasionally the cinematography. They were fine, and at times amazing. It was also a huge letdown, because it was no more beautiful than Moulin Rouge (made 12 years ago). Ahh, this is Luhrmann's forte yet he failed miserably. The computer animation was at times despicable. In this day and age, you can't forgive such faulty special effects.

Look, the main problem is that this film couldn't make me believe anything. I couldn't see the romance, the heartbreak, or the humor anywhere. The whole thing was unforgivably boring too, with the run-time being 2 hours and 24 minutes. A lot of the scenes were filler material, and the important stuff didn't seem all that important. The story is probably amazing, but it looked pretty run of the mill on screen.

The 'not-so-great' Gatsby
Baz Luhrmann has made some fine films, especially Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge. Taking into consideration his record with bad movies, he's on my list of "most overrated directors of all time." To be perfectly honest, this man should stay at least 10 feet away from adapting a classic novel at all times. I don't know how good the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald is. If there was any emotion in that novel, then this film has not done it justice. This movie sucked the passion and life out of The Great Gatsby, leaving nothing but the colorful corpse of a film.


  1. Before watching the movie, you should have read the novel. Then you would have understood what the novel and thus the movie stands for. For instance, the romantic relationship between Gatsby and Daisy isn't so much about portraying a passionate relationship, but just the opposite.
    Also, your point on "Great" in Great Gatsby is totally invalid. Again, read the novel and you will (hopefully) understand its significance, old sport.

  2. Fair point, I will read the novel ASAP. That doesn't excuse the fact that the film does a poor job of making the relationship interesting, as well as explaining what made Gatsby 'Great.' That's just my two cents. What did you think of the film?

    1. Wow, I just wrote an entire comment and clicked on 'add comment'.. guess what happened. comment gone. should have clicked on 'publish' instead. oops.

      anyway, my point (summarised) is that I quite liked the film.

      I watched the movie last week and I'm still processing. I hope to get the review up by the end of the week. I will elaborate on my point in the review. :)

    2. I look forward to reading it :) I'm always curious as to why people like this movie.

    3. I did not love the soundtrack of this movie but I love the book. However, the actors were well casted because the characters in Great Gatsby are meant to be detestable. They are meant to be loathed and selfish or whiny. The book definitely should be read before the viewing of this movie.


    4. That's a given, I understand that now. But shouldn't I have cared for the characters at least? I didn't give a hoot about what happened with them. I hear the book is great and very absorbing, but the movie had the opposite affect on me.

  3. The way I see it, and this is open to interpretation, Jay Gatsby is great because of the way he lived his entire life to love Daisy. Despite his lies, he is the most genuine person, at least when compared to the rest of these sorry characters. I’ll make an exception for Nick of course who is narrating/commenting on everything. Gatsby’s pursuit of the American Dream, rags to riches, was all for love.

    But you could read the entire book and stills struggle to see why he is considered great, so I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it. I agree the movie is seriously flawed. And incidentally, you shouldn’t have to read any book to understand the movie on which it is based. If that’s the case, the movie didn‘t do its job.

    Nice review.

    1. You hit the nail on the head there. Whatever the book was trying to convey, I just didn't feel it in this movie.

      Thanks :)

  4. This film is great, maybe the soundtrack puts it down but come on old sport a bit harsh?