First off, let me tell you that I have not read the book that this film is based off of, so I have absolutely no bias towards it in the slightest. I went into the theatre expecting nothing great. No pun intended.
The feeling I came out with surprised me.
This movie actually was great. In fact, it’s one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve gone to see in a long while. Everything just seemed to flow well together and smoothly. Many critics were rattled by what they saw as an overt use of colour and brightness, but I found that it wasn’t any more over the top than it needed to be.
The music was interesting, as they chose to fuse present day songs with the 1920s style setting. Amazingly, this didn’t impact the movie in the way you think it would. The flow remained smooth and nothing felt really out of place other than the fact that the audience undoubtedly noticed that it was current music. The song choices themselves were great and added to the scenes they were used in, making everything pleasing to the eye.
Speaking of pleasing to the eye, Leonardo DiCaprio had one of the best performances in this movie that I’ve seen in a while. Again, I haven’t read the novel, but it felt like he played Jay Gatsby to a tee. He made you feel the pain and hope that Gatsby held and made you root for him within minutes of screen time. He was easy to sympathize with and did an unreal job of showing the difficulty his character had with the love he held for Daisy (Carey Mulligan).
Specifically, the scene that Gatsby has with the main antagonist, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), is one of the most intense and well done scenes in the entire movie. It has the audience focused and on the edge of their seats. The tension in the the theatre was so thick I could have cut it with a knife.
Tobey Maguire did a solid job in his performance as the main character, Nick Carraway. He played the “sidekick” role in this movie rather well and everything really did seem as though it as coming from behind his eyes. He was easy to identify with and the audience quickly was able to cozy in with him for the full ride of the flick.
The narration, spoken by Maguire, can only be taken from the novel itself. The words are all so perfect for the movie and are brilliant in themselves. The writing is just fabulous, it is no wonder that the book was such a huge success. As an author myself, this is always what I’m most interested in and Mr. Fitzgerald (the author) definitely proved himself worthy of high praise.
The words make the movie that much more intense and poetic, and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. They also help the audience understand Carraway’s character while simultaneously adding to the plot.
The ending of the flick is, of course, sad and for a moment almost disappointing until it is understood that it could not have ended any other way in Fitzgerald’s mind. Carraway ends up broken, Gatsby dies and Daisy leaves with her jerk of a husband.
But when the film ends with the lines about the past, something which Gatsby and Carraway talk about extensively earlier on, one just has to give the author and the movie the respect it deserves. I know I’m being a little vague here, but you really just have to see the movie to understand what I’m talking about at this point.
If I had any knocks on this movie, it would have to be that Carraway ends up turning the story he’s telling to a doctor into a novel in which he calls, The Great Gatsby. This seems super lame until you realize that this book was written in 1925, so Fitzgerald did it before a lot of other filmmakers and authors overused it.
Overall, it was a great film with amazing writing, good acting (DiCaprio is really worth seeing) and a fun but mysterious feel. I highly recommend it.
Rating out of 100: 80