Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Movie Review - The Great Gatsby 2013

The Great Gatsby
Based on the book by F. Scott Fitgerald
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jack Thompson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Elizabeth Debicki, Jason Clarke, Isla Fisher, Adelaide Clemens, Kate Mulvany, Iota, Gus Murray, Max Cullen, Brendan Maclean, Richard Carter, Jake Ryan, Amitabh Bachchan, Kim Knuckey, David Furlong, Steve Bisley, Callan McAuliffe, and Tasman Palazzi
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

After the events of the previous summer Nick Carraway is a disillusioned drunk who has had himself committed. Talking with Dr. Perkins he reveals that the only true thing he found through all he endured was Jay Gatsby. Dr. Perkins recommends that Nick, who has always had ambitions of being a writer, write about Gatsby. Write about his experiences with this man. The book doesn't need to be for anyone other than himself, but the doctor thinks it will help Nick recover. Over the course of the winter as it thaws and becomes spring Nick writes Gatsby's story, which begins with Nick going to see his old college classmate Tom Buchanan in East Egg, an athlete through and through who spends his copious leisure time playing polo or playing around with his mistress Myrtle. Myrtle is a bit of a surprise to Nick as he thought Tom happily married to Daisy, who happens to be Nick's cousin. But according to Myrtle's sister, neither Tom nor Myrtle love their respective spouses. This is the first real step down into the depravity that will take ahold of Nick. But for awhile he will stay afloat because of his neighbor in West Egg, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby throws the most lavish, most decadent, most extraordinary parties, and yet no one, other than Nick, has actually ever been invited. They just show up and the Bacchanalia begins. But who would throw a party and then not partake of the revels? That is the enigma of Gatsby. Soon though Nick will be privy to all because of his unique situation and relation to Daisy. Gatsby has a favor to ask, a simple favor, he wants Nick to invite Daisy to tea, and then he'll just stroll in and sweep Daisy off her feet. Because five long years ago they were in love. This was before the war, when Jay was a penniless nobody, and Daisy loved him but knew she must marry for money. Now Gatsby wants to erase the intervening five years. Make Daisy's love for Tom nonexistent, and their happiness guaranteed. But life can't be so easily rewritten. Time moves forward, tragedy strikes, and disillusionment settles in.       

An over-the-top, frenetic, hyperactive adaptation that is the unholy lovechild of Dick Tracy and Sin City. But The Great Gatsby lacks the production quality and artistry of those two films which actually broke new ground instead of mashing up a whole lot of old and trying to make it new again. The problem all resides with Baz Luhrmann, he wants this film to be Busby Berkley on acid but he just doesn't have the talent of even the lowliest Hollywood hack director from the golden age of cinema. His work is all surface and no substance, just movies with catchy playlists, which on paper would make Luhrmann the ideal director for The Great Gatsby, but the problem is this adaptation strives to be something more, something greater, and therefore Luhrmann should have backed the hell away and just messed about with more absurd themes for the MET Gala. How about vintage advertising with a smattering of Erté? Because he sure as hell loved those visuals in this film, which, while cool, would have made Fitzgerald roll over in his grave. As for the framing device that reeks of a hackneyed Citizen Kane wannabe, it seems more like some desperate need to make Nick's narration plausible to a modern audience instead of just accepting that sometimes stories have narrators. Yes, it was interesting having Nick locked up for being a dipsomaniac writing Gatsby's story as therapy, thus combining Zelda and Scott into a single creative force that birthed the novel, but it was unnecessary. So much of this film is unnecessary. The movie takes half of it's screen time trying to figure itself out, much like the actor's accents. Leo finally landed on Kennedy if you were wondering, as for some of the others it's anyone's guess. But the end result of all THIS is a film that somehow succeeds in spite of itself because of the casting. Leo brings a depth to Gatsby you never thought possible. You feel he is lonely and hopeful and lost. You actually feel for him. You can see why Nick believes in him. Leo is a Gatsby to believe in and his loss is our loss.


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