I honestly do not know where to begin with this review.
As a fan of The Great Gatsby novel, and someone generally weary of movie adaptations of brilliant books, I was apprehensive going into my screening of The Great Gatsby 3D. I had heard very mixed reviews, and was aware that I would either love it, or hate it. I am so very glad to report it was definitely the former.
I have read a lot of reviews of the film, especially since seeing it myself, and there is just so much criticism. But I am not a cynical professional film critic. I am a teenage fangirl, and I shall review movies as such.
The Great Gatsby is a novel about extravagance hiding loneliness and deep sadness. The Great Gatsby is a film which perfectly captures the over the top facade and the heartbreak beneath.
The party scenes are brilliant, as you would expect party scenes in a Baz Luhrmann film to be. I’ve heard criticism of them as superficial and over the top, but isn’t that the point? After all, they weren’t real parties – Gatsby was throwing them in the long-shotted hope that Daisy would appear. They were fun: there was glitter (So. Much. Glitter), brilliant music, and two-dimensional characters getting drunk. They were exactly as I imagined a Gatsby party to be.
However, to me, the most sparkling moments of the film lay outside of the parties. They lay in the quiet moments where you could see the loneliness in Gatsby’s soul, and where Nick’s narration demonstrated the true haunted atmosphere of their lives.
I didn’t love every scene, of course. The New York party scene with Myrtle, especially, was jarring and over the top. I also can’t decide whether I loved or hated Gatsby’s entrance. But they were minor qualms in a film that had me smiling for at least the first hour and a half.
I was also initially apprehensive about Nick Carraway telling the story from a Sanatorium, but in the end, I thought it worked (although the snow at the beginning was slightly excessive). It showed the overwhelming result of being around Gatsby; what was left when Gatsby and the Buchanans had disappeared.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby was…perfect. The absolute pain he expressed and the beautiful folly of his misguided love for Daisy…it was amazing. Carey Mulligan was a brilliant Daisy (and the Lana Del Ray song used in the soundtrack that hauntingly repeated the lines “will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful” was ohmygosh amazing). Tobey Maguire was, I felt, an interesting Nick. A lot of criticism has cropped up around his portrayal, but unlike the larger than life Gatsby, novel-Nick was only a voice, and was always going to be difficult to transform into a character. Maybe he wasn’t always perfect, but as a shadow-dwelling character, he did his job, and I never hated him.
I was so happy that many lines from the book were directly quoted, especially “that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (because, after all, isn’t that the crux of the novel?). Again, there have been criticisms that the lines were too obvious, especially when they were written on the screen. But not everyone has read Gatsby. Not everyone has a deep understanding of the wonderful story. By including the lines as they did, the film was able to draw everyone into the magic of Gatsby’s world, and share Fitzgerald’s creation with those less literary minded.
At the end of the day, I found The Great Gatsby to be a perfectly heartbreaking adaptation of an amazing book. Movies are never going to be spot-on to the books they were inspired by, or able to please everyone, but I am so glad I was able to enjoy this one as much as I did.
You can listen to the criticisms, you can get caught up in minor problems about the soundtrack or certain scenes, or you can go in with an open mind and enjoy it for what it is. At the end of the day, The Great Gatsby is a Luhrmann creation, a film that takes a well-loved book and turns it into a film with his distinct touch all over it. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but this fangirl (and, interestingly, every teenager I know who has seen it) thought it was brilliant. Maybe I’m not as cultured, or have less of an understanding of literary and filmic criticism, but when it comes down to it, don’t over think, and you’ll have fun.
The Great Gatsby is out today, Thursday 30th of May, through Roadshow films.
frangipani princess xoxo