Review: The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby
Director: Baz Luhrmann
With: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton
Much has been said about this new version by Aussie director Baz Luhrmann, especially it being in 3D. Seeing it in 2D made me wish I had seen it in 3D, but the film has a gloss and radiance to it unlike any other made to date.
This film did better than expected in the States, yet the profits from the 3D sales amounting to only a third of all earnings. This was due to more women attending than men. They know that 3D is a gimmick. After all, if there were ever a film to be made in 3D, would you expect it to be Gatsby?
After seeing the ballet version a few weeks ago, I'm ashamed to say I have never read the book. Most children who have to study it in school hate it. It should be read later in life, in your 20s and 30s. I had hoped to read it at least before seeing the film. I downloaded a free eBook. It being such a slender read, I could read it within a few days. Its size makes it more a novella, but I'm here to discuss the film. Studying one of his short stories in uni made me realise how charming and eloquent a writer Fitzgerald is.
But I have mixed feelings about this film. Yet maybe this is the most truthful to the book that has ever been screened. A film version made in the 20s is lost to time, with other versions being made in the 40s and 70s, the latter being the most famous version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. This new version shows the era like no other film. The gorgeous backdrops and mise-en-scÃ¨ne of this film are enough to make anyone want to go back there. If this film has done anything, it has revised in fashion the Roaring Twenties style and taste. I think this is splendid and about time really!
We can't discuss this film with talking about Baz's most famous work to date, Moulin Rouge. You either love this film or hate it and Gatsby feels like a sequel of sorts (there are so many similarities). My mother has yet to sit though the whole film, having great disdain for the sheer amount of rowdiness and panache featured. So taking her as my plus one for Gatsby could have gone either way. She did the usual thing of putting her fingers in her ears for the loud and manic parts, as if she was at a bomb site. His films do feature those pathetically stupid and juvenile scenes, some of which can be embarrassing for the viewer.
The party scenes have use of a lot of modern music. I was unsure of this, since I love jazz and music of the era. The taking of songs for Moulin Rouge worked because they became musicalised to Baz's taste. No shame in him using the songs of The Beatles, Elton John, Madonna or even Nirvana. For Gatsby songs have been written and old ones redone by the likes of Jay-Z, BeyoncÃ©, will.i.am, Fergie and Emeli SandÃ©.
My favourite song choice was by fellow Australian Gotye, most famous for his viral hit song Somebody That I Used To Know. His song Hearts A Mess is here played at the start of the closing credits. Although most people walk out during the credits, this is one of my favourite songs by him and I always stay for the end credits anyway. The jazzy and melancholic sounds that open and close the film were a highlight. I desperately tried to find it later in the soundtrack but with no luck.
Beforehand people seemed weary of Baz’s treatment to the book. Mark Kermode said he felt ‘the book was being shouted at him.’ I would have loved to have known what Rodger Ebert would have thought (he died a month or so ago). Being one of America’s most famous film critics, he always gave the yay or nay on which films to see.
The story obviously revolves around Jay Gatsby played by Leonardo DiCaprio (his lavish entrance is heralded by Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue, which had to be played somewhere in the film). Everyone flocks to his most massive of mansions for swell parties, but no one knows who he really is. His old flame, Daisy Buchannan (Carey Mulligan) remerges to thicken the plot and triggers in Gatsby his immense reclaiming of the past. One of his most famous lines from the book ‘‘Change the past? Why of course you can change the past!’’
The acting contained some of the best seen this year. We can only hope DiCaprio wins an Oscar for this suave and domineering role. Mulligan’s character is certainly the one who divides people the most on her actions. She made the role go far and perhaps even aroused sympathy in me. Toby Maguire played Nick Carraway with convincing sincerity and humbleness. Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s spouse, is the villain of sorts and sounded just like Nathan Lane in a very serious role.
This film is a great summation of the era with its greed, decadence and debauchery. The depressing decade after Gatsby would be a reality check, which is why this film has been made now within our own economic crises. Through its flaws, it is still the film of the year and is a must see. Yet a quote by Shakespeare comes to mind:
‘‘All that glitters is not goldâ€¦’’
The Great Gatsby runs at Chapter Arts Centre until 20th of June and is now playing everywhere.
Related Article: Review: Northern Ballet - The Great Gatsby @ New Theatre