Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Great Gatsby (2013) review


   Compared to the attempts made in the past to personify the brilliant novel, this adaptation shows the source material at least a bit more respect. In fact, the whole way this film is made seems to celebrate and glorify the book in its near entirety. The performances are excellent and the vibrant, musical moods are jumping. However, the film doesn't match the time period as well as some would expect, and some important scenes are greatly left behind.

PLOT: Nick Carroway (Tobey Maguire), now in a mental institution, is told to write about his experiences with Gatsby to express all of his thoughts and emotions. Nick tells the story of how he moved to New York in the portion of West Egg, near his cousin on East Egg, Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Nick reveals later on that he lives next to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), the millionaire who he sees as a mystery at first until one day when he gets invited to one of Gatsby's wild parties. Nick eventually finds out that Gatsby and Daisy used to be lovers before the war. At Gatsby's request, Nick invites Daisy over and they meet up again, falling in love again almost instantly. However, their love won't be long-lived, for Tom, who is also cheating, gets suspicious of Daisy and her doings. The excellent plot of the novel is brought to a new life in this adaptation. The execution is very good, adding dramatic emotion and personality in each scene, as to catch the true meaning and impact it means to bring on. The stylized, fast-paced mood of Baz Luhrman's direction may change a few details, but it definitely brings a new sense of life into the classic source material.

ACTING: The performances in this film are excellent. Tobey Maguire plays very good part of Nick Carroway, adding a hint of lost time to the story's narrative view. Carey Mulligan also played her part as Daisy about as well as Maguire did for Nick. The two shining performances of the show would definitely be Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan. The two not only breathed vivid life into the characters the novel fans have grown to know, but they also played off each other excellently, bringing both fantastic realism and emotional drama to the table. I had to say that I was most entertained and kept tense by DiCaprio and Edgerton's performances. No performance was truly bad in the film, and a lot of the cast along with these few are is all-star, including Isla Fisher as Myrtle, and Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker.

SCORE/SOUNDTRACK: The soundtrack in this film is lively and jumping, with artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Florence + the Machine, Lana Del Ray, Jack White, Gotye, and many others. The songs are all nice and fit the mood well, but not the time, however. The score itself was very excellently done, with emotional, dramatic, and intense themes to glorify the mood of the moment. Luhrman's style of coordinating modern with classic in music was not fully effective here, however, as it has been done in his past works.

OTHER CONTENT: This adaptation of the film isn't as blasphemous as some critics see it to be. The style of the film may be suited a bit more for modern times, but that doesn't always ruin the emotional impact the source material has. This is more of a celebration of Gatsby. The most memorable lines are kept memorable within a bout of stylized film-making and inserted into the modern background as a symbolism of the novel's living meaning today. However, this isn't the perfect version of the novel most have been looking for. The flaws aren't many, but they are major. The music and choreography of the film didn't match the time that the film took place in at all. The utilization of hip-hop music and dance moves to style the source material to modern times, as Luhrman often tries to do, doesn't succeed in this film. The overall feeling just comes off as more distasteful than anything else. Also and like the version from 1974, some important details were left out in the conversion from literature to cinema. Likes of Myrtle's speech about when she first met Tom to the moment we meet Gatsby's father at the end are just lost and forgotten in the wild hustle and bustle of the film. These two flaws set the film back and definitely didn't show it the honor it deserves, but this film is the best we have so far for film adaptations of the Fitzgerald classic.

   This adaptation isn't as blasphemous as it's believed to be. In fact, it's a sort of celebration for the mass readers. The performances are excellent, the music is lively, and the execution is marvelously emotional, breathing life we have not yet seen into the beloved classic. However, matching up the times and including all of the important scenes from the source are major factors that fail.

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