Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Movie Review - The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann!

Happy Tuesday!

I have seen so many good movies lately and I wish I had time to share all my good experiences from the big screen, but I need to make a choice. I saw The Great Gatsby last week and here is the review.

Title: The Great Gatsby
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Screenplay: Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce
Based on: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Adult: Drama, Romance
Production: Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, A&E Television Networks
Length: 142 minutes
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan


IMDB: An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.


In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

My review:

Let me start with saying that The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was a very first novel I read in English, and it was many years ago. Few years ago I re-read it again and it is my favorite novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have also seen different movie adaptions of the novel and when I heard, that Baz Luhrmann is making a new version, I knew, I had to see it. I loved his Moulin Rouge and hoped, that The Great Gatsby would be an amazing movie experience. In a way, it definitely was.

The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann takes you to a very different New York City in 1920s, at least when you compare it to the novel and I think it is intentional from the director's side to attract the younger generations. I actually enjoyed, that the 1920s settings were combined with modern and current artists, music and soundtrack.

The story itself is fairly similar to the novel. It introduces you to a mysterious man called Jay Gatsby. Legends and stories about Gatsby are larger than life and Nick Carraway, our storyteller and a neighbor to Gatsby, is determined to investigate what is the truth about Gatsby and what is not. What Nick Carraway is not prepared to find out, is the truth -  the truth about Gatsby and the love story between Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan and the truth about the seamy side of the American Dream. It ain't all that pretty.

Directing and Visuals:

After watching the movie on the big screen, I have to admit, I do not understand why it was made in 3D. Of course, the big colorful party scenes at Gatsby's house gave great visual 3D experiences, but otherwise, I do not understand the necessity. It did not disturb me, but it did not give a lot added value in my opinion.

With that said, I did love the visuals in The Great Gatsby. The scenes were colorful, vivid, strong, rich - it gave a wholly perfect idea of the overwhelming wealth and lavish hedonism of the people from this era. You got a sneak peak inside of a lush world of a lonely and obsessive self-made gentleman.

As for the director work, I did love how Baz Luhrmann balanced the vivid world of Gatsby with the modest surroundings of the place where Nick Carraway lived, even though they were just neighbours. It gave sharp contrasts which I liked. When you add the grey colored world of the tank station and the house of the Buchanans - all these different settings created a perfect visual ensemble which supported the different worlds the characters were living in: the rich, the middle-class, the poor, the old money. It added to the story itself.


The music and the soundtrack were definitely supporting the cinematography. Original songs from 1920s like "Let's Misbehave", "St. Louis Blues", "Ain't Misbehavin'" were very professionally combined with "No Church In the Wild" (performed by Kayne West), "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" (performed by Fergie) to name a few and honestly, I LOVED the mixture! I think the music empowered the visuals and I have a feeling that Baz Luhrmann had its role in it because the same methods are used in his other movies.


I'll be honest with you. If Leonardo DiCaprio wouldn't have been Jay Gatsby, this movie would have received a very different rating from me. DiCaprio was a fabulous choice as Gatsby! He proved once again, that he is an excellent talented actor and a male lead, capable of playing and filling in for ANY role. His Gatsby was passionate, obsessive, sad, desperate, willing to use any means necessary to get his Daisy, and yet so hopeful - all the characteristics which Gatsby needed to possess. DiCaprio captured the viewer from the first scene he entered the movie and he did not let you go - he was able to impress you even in the coffin at the end of the movie. DiCaprio's performance as Gatsby was not only professional, it was beautiful, captivating and he made this movie alive!

The biggest surprise was Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan. I haven't seen many movies starring him, but his Buchanan was impressive. He made Buchanan robust, powerful and impelling - just like I imagined Buchanan should be. Well done, Mr. Edgerton!

I wish, I could say the same for other actors. I can't.

Tobey Maguire has never been my favorite. It has nothing to do with his skills, but his looks; he just was not Nick Carraway to me. I would have wanted to see much more cynical and bitter part of Carraway, which I truly missed, because Tobey Maguire just was not able to show that. He seemed more like a confused happy camper. Of course, I have to give it to Maguire, that towards the end of the movie he made himself more believable.

I was disappointed at Carey Mulligan. I think she played well as a young Daisy, but she was flat and incoherent as a married and wealthy woman. I wanted to see more emotions and feelings and braveness. It seemed like she was forced into the box where she could not get out from. Like a bird without the wings who never really got a chance to fly.


So why do I give this movie that high rating? Because of the directing, visuals, music and DiCaprio. Even though I expected more from the actors, I think the wholeness and the consistency were still there - very visibly.

5 stars
IMDB rating - 10 stars.

Happy movie experiences!



  1. So glad to hear you lived the movie! The previews look so good that I've been nervous to see it because I'm a little too hyped up about it. I'm indifferent to Toby Maguire, but I franking love Leonardo DiCaprio!!

    I also don't get why they made it in 3D. This isn't exactly a 3D type of movie.

    Can't wait to see it!

    1. If you love DiCaprio's acting, Kimberly, you will love the movie! Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  2. Good review Inga. The novel will probably forever, and always will be considered unfilmable, no matter how hard this movie tries to make it work.

    1. Hi there! Good to see you here again!
      Thank you for your kind words!

      I agree with you that essentialy people, and that includes me, should not compare movies with books, because it would be like comparing pears with apples. Unfortunately, since I am an avid reader and most movies are based on actual novels, it happens very often, that I have "the-book-background" already and it's very difficult to ignore that knowledge. :)

      I do admire though, that moviemakers are capable of giving the content of a book in such short timeframes. When you read a book, it can take from few hours to days, but movie is usually around 2 hours or less.

      There are movies which are better than the original books. That usually means bad writing or excellent cinematography... or both :)

      But yes, I do agree with you.