The Great Gatsby is reviewed by both Josh and Violet in today’s movie review. Check out our thoughts on this classic American novel turned big screen movie. Check it out after the jump!
His Gatsby Review:
The Great Gatsby as a novel, has been a part of high school curriculum for a long time, and is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which follows the story of Nick Carraway, and his eventual meeting of Mr. Gatsby. While I have not read this book in over a decade, I remember it being one of the better books from the high school reading lists. As for the movie, before even seeing the movie, I had many changes of my thoughts on it being made for the big screen again (previously done in 1974, with Robert Redford playing Gatsby). At first, I was very excited to see the retelling of the story. Once I heard Leonardo DiCaprio was to play Gatsby, I became even more excited. Then I learned that Baz Luhrmann was directing, and I became more reserved in my feelings about the movie, as I think I am one of the few people out there who doesn’t really enjoy Moulin Rouge (although I love his Romeo & Juliet, which also has DiCaprio). Then after hearing the reviews that initially came in, I became even more concerned about how my feelings for the movie would be.
While that was a long paragraph which really doesn’t tell you what I thought of the movie, I feel it helps when I explain my thoughts on what I actually thought of it. For those unfamiliar with the storyline, it takes places in 1922, during prohibition, with the protagonist, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) narrating his summer in West Egg, where he moved into a relatively modest house on Long Island that happens to be next door to a man by the name of Jay Gatsby. Nick Carraway has given up on education towards being a writer, and decides to pursue a businessman’s venture, and sells bonds in town. Meanwhile, Carraway’s cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) lives across the waterway in East Egg, and is married to a man named Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) who is having an affair with a woman in town. One night, Carraway is invited to one of Gatsby infamous parties, which are known for being the best in town.
Gatsby turns out to be somewhat of a mythical person, as no one attending the party really knows who he is. Gatsby seems to know who Carraway is however, and they quickly become friends. Gatsby has an ulterior motive for their friendship however, as Gatsby would like to use Nick as an “in” to get close to Daisy. We learn through Gatsby that he and Daisy were lovers before World War I, but after the war, Gatsby did not return to Daisy, only wrote her a letter, explaining that he was poor, and did not feel he could take care of her. Daisy winds up marrying Tom Buchanan. We also find out that Gatsby made his money through bootlegging, as the story takes place during American prohibition, and there is much profit to be made when something is illegal.
Without spoiling the ending (despite the story being around since 1925), it continues with Gatsby attempting woo Daisy despite her current marriage. Tempers wind up flaring between all parties, and the story takes a tragic turn, while Nick Carraway is caught in the middle, and can do nothing but watch the story unfold…
Now, after actually seeing them movie, I still have mixed feelings. I was not really into the opening, as they centered mainly around Gatsby’s exuberant parties, which were filmed in a feel very reminiscent of Moulin Rouge, and the movie as a whole felt a little over-stylized. Leonardo DiCaprio gave an excellent performance (with the exception of him calling Nick “Old Sport” every 5 minutes), and I was pleasantly surprised by Tobey Maguire. As for the story, with what I can remember of the book, it followed it pretty closely, with the exception of the hip hop songs woven in during most of the party scenes.
Overall, I feel the movie is a good watch for those interested in seeing a movie adaptation of a book they likely read in high school, and a good way for those unfamiliar with novel considered to be, “the Great American Novel” to get acquainted. With the rollercoaster my feelings went on with this movie before it came out, I feel it basically met my expectations in the end as to what I thought it would be.
Overall, I would rate this movie a 6 out of 10.
Her Gatsby Review:
Most of us probably read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby in high school, or at least the Cliff Notes version. However, high school was quite a long time ago for some of us (myself included), so this is not going to be a comparison between the book and the movie. I actually had intended to re-read the book before seeing the movie, but unfortunately was unable to do so, because the 10 or so copies at my local library have been perpetually checked out for the past month, and I’m too cheap to pay for something I could get for free. In any event, I went into the movie a little fuzzy about the details of the story, although some of it came back to me as the events took place during the movie.
The movie takes place in 1922, and is told from the perspective of Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire), who it appears has been institutionalized as he is writing the story as a form of therapy to recover from alcoholism and presumably depression. He recounts how he abandoned his writing ambitions and moved to New York to become a bond salesman. His tiny cottage, 20 miles outside of the city, happens to be right next to the mansion of the mysterious Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who hosts wild parties every weekend, and right across the bay from his cousin Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan) and her husband, Tom Buchanan (played by Joel Edgerton), where they too live in a lavish mansion. Nick soon discovers firsthand that Tom has a mistress who lives in the city, although it seems like everyone knows about her, even Daisy.
Before long, Gatsby invites Nick to one of his extravagant parties and befriends him, and Nick becomes fascinated with Gatsby, who not only seems to have an intriguing past, but a secretive present, whilst appearing to be well respected throughout the city. Gatsby eventually gathers up his courage to ask Nick for a favor – to set up a meeting with Nick’s cousin, Daisy, with whom Gatsby had a history five years prior. From that point on, Nick becomes third wheel and secret keeper, as the mystery unfolds as to who Jay Gatsby really is, all leading up to a tragic accident that is Gatsby’s undoing.
Baz Luhrmann, the director, provides a solid adaptation of book to movie. From what I can remember, it seems like the movie stays true to the source material for the most part. I had just watched Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge the night before, and had read people’s posts on Facebook and Twitter saying that The Great Gatsby reminded them of Moulin Rouge. However, other than the party scenes, and the juxtaposition of modern music (here, hip hop) within a historical setting, I wasn’t really reminded of Moulin Rouge at all. Absent were the fast cuts and silly, ridiculous humor that had bothered me about Moulin Rogue. Instead, this was replaced with a subtler humor. For example, I really enjoyed the quiet humor in the scene where Nick, Gatsby, and Daisy meet at Nick’s cottage for tea. Additionally, while Moulin Rouge employed deep reds and dark colors, giving it an air of gloominess, The Great Gatsby used white, making everything look bright and happy.
DiCaprio gives an amazing performance as the suave and mysterious Gatsby, with his cool and charismatic demeanor. Mulligan also gives a good performance as the vulnerable, albeit pampered, delicate Daisy. However, Maguire’s performance as Nick Carraway makes the character come off as distractingly goofy, whereas I always imagined Nick as a more serious, down to earth type fellow.
Although the movie starts out as enjoyable enough, with its honest moments and good pacing as the mystery unfolds, not to mention the glitz and glamour that almost makes me wish I had lived in New York in the early 1920s and inspires me to want to cut my hair to a flapper bob, it eventually starts to drag and you definitely start to feel the fact that it is well over two hours. It is obvious that Luhrmann tried to make up for this by throwing in a Jay-Z hip hop soundtrack to appeal to the younger audience. However, as I am not a fan of hip hop, that attempt was lost on me. Also, I found the constant interruptions of Nick writing the story while at the institution to be quite distracting. That whole idea was not even in the book, and I felt it was unnecessary to add it to the movie. I think it might have been okay to put these scenes at the beginning and end, but not sprinkled throughout the movie.
My rating: 6.5/10