THE GREAT GATSBY (2013) : REVIEW
May 17, 2013
“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
Do me a favor first, answer this very question : have you read the book? Because if you have, this movie definitely breaks your imagination, in both good and bad ways. I was quite cynical at first, but still was waiting impatiently for Baz Luhrmann's excecution on creating classic F.Scott Fitzgerald's. I absolutely love the literature, but what do I have to say about the movie? Well, let's go find out.
Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is a dedicated young man who decides to stir his life into a better stage by living at a small humble house in West Egg, Long Island. He does his job stocking at Wall Street while slowly bonding with his rich cousin, Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and her wealthy blue-blooded snobbish husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). After getting an 'official' invitation from his mysterious neighbor next door, Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) who owns a castle-ly like mansion and whose parties are the talk of New York City, Nick then finds himself drawn into the captivating world of the rich and whatever lies behind. And surely, he witnesses a love & tragedy he wouldn't even imagined at the first place.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is probably my favorite classic reads besides Shakespeare's Hamlet. The world it creates is just beyond imagination, solemnly beautiful. The tragedy that unfolds is mesmerizing and is the talk of the century. But then again, it's the book. By narrating it into a movie, I strongly expected that it wouldn't be a 'literally'. This movie is like a living novel : the way Nick Carraway narrates every single sequences that are too-faithful to the book doesn't make this a movie. Everything is being cleared by the pouring sentences (as well as the beautifully written words with the captivating font that are plastered onto the screen, literally) from Nick's dramatic voice, along with the googly, wide-eyed stare. It's distracting; the flashback is somehow being centered on Nick, but it is actually about Gatsby. Also, the way Nick tries to unfold Gatsby's true self is a little jumpy; one Gatsby is A, then on another he's B, then he's back again on being A. But, what truly bothers me is the fact that this movie is waaaayyyy too easy to digest, even for a 7-year-old's mind. Everything seems to be so well-stated, so clear, that you don't have to think twice to understand the whole stories. It's like "Just sit back and enjoy. No need to wince or anything." when in fact we're supposed to be digesting and processing in those 143 minutes. I mean, it is supposed to be hard to understand, deep enough to make your mind wanders. It took me 3 times to actually understand the whole things in the book, and by the execution of this movie, surely every students' english assignment will be much easier. Rudely said, it violates the true essence of the book, which is the depth.
One thing I love about this movie is the way it plays with our emotions. It's sometimes funny, sometimes pitiful, sometimes frightening. I'm sure a lot of people will protest about the plot & tension which rather up and down. Truthfully said, the book does too, because that's what makes the story dives deeper. It gives us time to reconciliate and gather the emotion before changing it into others.
I'm sure you're all wonder why do I dare to throw such a high rank for this movie. Simply said : THE VISUAL PLEASURES MY EYES. If you think Anna Karenina is sumptous, think again, because this movie really exceeds all the terms and expectations. My visualization when I read the book was deep, dark, dangerous with a little bit of glamours, more to the sins and struggles. But, the visualization of this movie strips that all. How can I picture this, ehm, a large snow globe? The surrealism really shows, with the most captivating and jawdropping sets I've ever seen. The richness that captured through the movements of the cameras, the extravagant costumes along with the stunning bright jewelleries from Tiffany's are grand. The effects are remarkable and it's amazing how they manage to re-create New York City in the 20's, topped with the dirty grey slump that connects it into another heaven, say .. old Hampton. Too bad I couldn't see it in 3D because I swear the 3D will be awesome, especially those party scenes. But another thing to say, I have a quite love-hate relationship with the music. It's too modern for 20's, but I couldn't resist Jay Z and those spectacular hangovers and fireworks dum dum that is still ringing in my head. And ears. Whatever, it makes me gape.
The actors are remarkable. DiCaprio once again owns his character. He is a great depiction of Jay Gatsby; the charming, suave, smart, naive, insecure and volatile billionaire with that little smile of his and his famous "Old Sport" saying. Mulligan also naills her role; Daisy is looking as flowery as possible but can be a weed whenever she wants her to be. She's a heart escapade, with the restriction of chemistry, as well as doubts and lies. And she's an eye-candy, that one. Joel Edgerton is able to bring fire to the love triangle and also able to offer complexity in Tom. Elizabeth Debicki stole the scenes and being too dominant with that statuesque beauty and those wide haunting eyes of Jordan Baker. While everyone almost nails their characters, Tobey Maguire fails the entire scenes. Nick is distracting and his purpose is only to introduce us to the richness of the other characters, both literally and characteristically. His well-being and the story of him writing the actual story are not helping. Let's put it this way : he's there for the story, his eyes really support him to do the storytelling, and those "Gatsby" script he writes with the stating of "By Nick Carraway" is bothering me. Delete him, delete!
The Great Gatsby is one heck of a visual job. For those the non-thinkers and non-readers may find this movie as the new Cinderella clash Romeo&Juliet story, while for those who aren't may find this movie a little bummer. I personally love this movie, despite all the easy-ness it throws me. I can say that I wouldn't miss it for the world. Recommended. PS : for those "happily ever after" lovers, get ready to get dissapointed.