The Great Gatsby
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writer: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Based on: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Adelaide Clemens, Amitabh Bachchan, Callan McAuliffe
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) decided to get into the bond business. He moves into a little house just outside of New York and reconnects with his cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who lives nearby after getting married to Tom (Joel Edgerton) who comes from a whole lot of old money. Nick’s next door neighbor is a man called Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is filthy rich as well, but from new money. Gatsby celebrates grand parties every weekend. When Nick is invited to one, he finds out that Gatsby and Daisy are somehow connected.
Unfortunately I didn’t love the movie as much as I loved the book. It wasn’t that bad but there were also a few issues, making the movie work only half of the time.
Let me talk about the things I loved about the film. That was first and foremost Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. He was amazing and I basically fell in love with him on the spot, with all Gatsby’s nervousness around Daisy and his stubbornness and his hope. Amazing. Carey Mulligan also held her own opposite him. After all the description of Daisy’s voice in the book I was really wondering whether she would be able to do it justice, but she definitely did. And Joel Edgerton was appropriately assholish.
I also loved the soundtrack with its amazing remixes/covers [and also the original songs] and the bombastic parties, though the general bombast did become a little much. A little less CGI (and a little less actual writing in the sky) would have done wonders there. But generally the atmosphere was pretty great and engaging. [And the scene where we meet Daisy for the first time! And the scene where Gatsby and Daisy meet again!]
But what didn’t work for me at all was Tobey Maguire and the script’s insistence that he do all the voice-overs. That was amazingly annoying. Read out loud by Maguire, Fitzgerald’s prose doesn’t work at all and it feels repetitive, telling us things that it shows us at the same time.
The script was the movie’s weakest point. Especially the sanatorium framing device that was clichéd and didn’t fit at all and I hated it. And the pacing was off, too and the movie generally ran too long. That just squandered the film’s potential.
Summarising: There was some entertainment to be had but the movie could have been better.