When I saw that there was going to be another movie made of The Great Gatsby, I was content. This is one of my favorite books of all time and seeing it on the big screen would be something I was sure to enjoy.
When I found out that this movie was to be directed by Baz Luhrmann, I was filled with joy. I am highly enamored of both Moulin rouge and Romeo + Juliet. The Great Gatsby could only benefit from his unique aesthetic.
Before I tell you about my thought on the movie I wanted to share with you an observation about both the movie and the book from John and Ro Wick. They call it, “A beautiful mirror that reflects ugly things.” I find this a very fitting description and had to share it.
The movie left me with mixed emotions. What I expected from Baz Luhrmann was delivered. He took the evocative passages from the book and translated them lovingly to the screen. There is the scene where Carraway is issued into a room to meet his cousin. The description of the room and how Daisy and Jordan are lounging is something palpable to me. This same scene on the big screen is pure magic. It is very much how I imagined it while reading.
The feeling of dissolute debauchery that radiates throughout the novel is carried over well to the screen. From the large lavish parties filled with everything one can desire to the sordid moments in the squalor, a crumbling world is created. A world that is easy to despise along with the people that reside there. The things I loved about the book transition to the screen. Not only do they transition, but they assume a larger life than what I had hoped.
The movie is not without it’s flaws though. I have always imagined Daisy as quite harsh from my many reading of the novel. Here, she comes across much softer. It is a bit jarring but it grew on me. Carraway comes across as someone swept up in things beyond his control as opposed to a callous observer whose own inaction leads to horrible events. This same rose-colored lens is also applied to Gatsby. DiCaprio’s performance plays hard on the “I did it all for love” trope that just rings hollow here.
These stylistic changes to Carraway and Gatsby left me somewhat disappointed. I wanted a less romantic and more uncompromising look at these two characters than what I was given. Outside of this though, I liked the movie. The little notes throughout the novel that I enjoyed make their way onto screen creating an overall enjoyable experience. If you are a fan of Luhrmann or the novel I recommend seeing this movie. If not one of these, It would well be worth your time as rental later.