Verdict: 3 / 5
Written in 1925, The Great Gatsby has become a classic novel that has captured the imaginations of generations. It’s simply story manages to resonate with readers long after reading. Unfortunately, for all its vibrancy and contemporary beats, I don’t think I can say the same about the film.
An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, set in Long Island, Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, Carraway sees through the cracks of Gatsby’s nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.
Firstly, I have to point out that I have read the book and therefore my views are quite subjective and prejudice. I have a great respect for the source material. The Great Gatsby is a book that has been adapted multiple times in the past. However, this is first time that it managed to get the budget in order to adapt this story the way its meant to be told. With director Baz Luhrman at the helm we get the full-blown out spectacle that we were hoping for. The film is visually stunning and has a contemporary sound. This rendition of this story never bores and keeps audience’s eyes glued to the screen. Baz paid so much attention to detail bringing this incredible world to life, making it feel as wonderful, magical and vibrant as the words written by Fitzgerald all those years ago.
The soundtrack of the film is certainly filled with a lot of contemporary beats that might make one or two purest cringe at the sound of modern music penetrating the world of the 20’s. Although they would be hard-pressed to say that it was an utter failure. However, there were one or two songs Jay-Z songs that were so out-of-place it removed you from the story. For the most part each song that was used was so well bonded with a particular scene that it all fit really well together.
The one negative about the story was definitely the characters. And for a book that’s all about its characters, it’s definitely one big negative. For all the films splendidly beautiful visuals (amazing costumes, the elaborate sets and stunning imagery) and upbeat tempo, the characters get lost in the story. Time and time again the audience is subjected to montages of characters experiences, both past or present, and yet this never reveals too much about them. We are never given a reason to care about these people, to sympathize with or to find out all the intricacies about them. Instead, the film basically summarizes the characters relationships to one another while building the up the beauty around them. One perfect example of this would be Caraway’s relationship to Jordan Baker. In the book the two have a budding romance, which never really comes into fruition. In the film their relationship is really reduced to nothing more than acquaintances. The film loses the warmth and love between the characters. It loses the drama and vibrancy. It loses the enigmatic and mystery. Instead its replaced with fancy bells and whistles hoping that audiences wouldn’t notice.
This is hardly the actors’ fault as they certainly portray these characters gloriously. Each and every member of the cast was simply superb. Joel Edgerton, in my opinion, steals the show. He was simply fantastic as he brought Buchanan to life. Leonardo Di Caprio was wonderful as he brought every tiny nuance of Gatsby to life. He simply melted away into the role, bringing his ferocity, well-mannered nature and enigma aura to life. The same can be said about the rest of the cast. Carrey Mulligan, Elizabeth Debicki, Tobey Maguire and Isla Fishcer also brought their A game.
The real shame is that The Great Gatsby has such a magnificent cast, who really embodied these characters and yet it was the characters that got the short end of the stick. It certainly is quite a bit of fun. It will demand your attention with amazing stunning visuals. However, if you were a fan of the book, you will be a bit disappointed. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the masterpiece it promised to be.