Friday, May 10, 2013

The Great Gatsby Movie Review

Leonardo DiCaprio is The Great Gatsby

From our friends at DC Film Review...

Not So Great Without Gatsby

‘You can’t repeat the past.’ Five words seemingly close to the heart of Baz Luhrmann, who turns F. Scott Fitzgerald’s world upside down in his film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Although it’s gorgeous to look at, Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby stumbles at times: I came away feeling that I had just watched a movie built around a musical soundtrack (instead of the other way around.) Leo DiCaprio amazes as the title character, a man affectionately referred to as ‘the single most hopeful person I’ve ever met.’ The Great Gatsby is lush, loud and somehow sleepy all at the same time... It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before; and I suppose that makes it worth the $15 admission.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: "The Great Gatsby" follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and skyrocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

What’s Best: Have you ever been to a party before the guest of honor arrives? Luhrmann’s Gatsby borders on comatose until DiCaprio shows up, turning disaster into enchantment (with little more than a smile and a champagne toast.) DiCaprio radiates charm and insecurity with unbridled equal... One minute, he’s commanding a room full of people: The next, he’s fumbling over how to sit before reuniting with Daisy. It’s been over 15 years since Titanic; but Leo proves he still owns romance.

In addition to Leo’s Oscar-worthy turn, The Great Gatsby is blessed with an unbelievable soundtrack (You have to go back to Purple Rain or Saturday Night Fever to find better.) Edgerton delivers plenty of edge as Daisy’s two-timing hubby; while Elizabeth Debicki almost steals the show as Miss Jordan Baker. Even Luhrmann has moments of visual brilliance, amidst the bulk of his chaos. 

What’s Not: Luhrmann takes way too many liberties with Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece. I’m all for updating the past, but it’s hard to slide Jay-Z and BeyoncĂ© into 1922 Harlem without getting noticed. Even worse is the curious decision to release Gatsby in 3D. Most of the movie looks painfully fake (Jay and Nick tearing though town in Gatsby’s custom car reminded me of Dick Tracy.) Speaking of painful... Reading the book didn’t seem to take nearly as long as the film’s 143-minute runtime. The Great Gatsby begs for more editing. Know what I mean “Old Sport?”

Best Line: Gatsby’s insecurity is apparent throughout, ‘I didn’t want you to think I was a nobody;’ but nothing compares to Jordan’s ‘I like large parties: They’re so intimate. Small parties... There isn’t any privacy.’ You can’t do better than F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Overall: Daisy comments, ‘I’m paralyzed with happiness;’ but this writer felt paralyzed by wasteful 3D effects, booming sounds and even louder visuals. The Great Gatsby excels in its more subtle moments, most of which are brilliantly executed by DiCaprio. When Gatsby asks Nick, ‘Do you think it’s too much?’ Nick replies, ‘I think it’s what you want.’ Gatsby moves Heaven and Earth to win back a woman not worth having in the first place. Fitzgerald’s story is filled with irony; and for the most part, Luhrmann captures that... even if he shows it off in far flashier fashion. Worth seeing for DiCaprio alone (and that amazing soundtrack.)

Grade: B-