I have to admit a prejudice. I normally don't like it when a favored book is made into a movie. I feel the imagination is much more vivid then what can be seen on screen. I'm admitting this because before you read my review of Buz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby, you should know where I come from.
(Spoiler alert - Don't read on if you don't want to know)
You have been warned.
First, Luhrmann has a reputation for taking on great literature and tweaking it to be something new and edgy. I was torn at how I felt about this upcoming look at Gatsby. Would it be amazing? Would he bring in a new interpretation like he did with Romeo and Juliet? Would it be a disaster? While Moulin Rouge' wasn't great, I really liked the modern interpretation of Romeo. I walked into the theater hopeful.
Before I talk about what I didn't like, there were a few high points. The costumes, while not completely authentic to the time period, were very well thought out. Here are my sticking points; the use of polyester for some of the hair/clothing pieces ( Polyester was invented in the 40's); while the roaring 20's was a wild time in our history, the truth is that it was tame compared to some of the costumes of the movie; finally, Tiffany and Company Created the jewelry which I liked but I felt it was over the top. Most costumes were spot on, so overall I thought this was a plus of the movie.
Now, if you know me, don't pass out here. Leo was pretty good at playing Gatsby. (GASP) There I said it. I don't tend to be a huge Leo fan, but he was less stiff then Redford in the 1974 adaptation and DiCaprio was able to display the intense character that is Gatsby. There were a couple of places he seemed forced, but I think that was because of his direction and not his acting. Overall, I felt him as Gatsby. Maybe he's growing on me, maybe he's a fan of the book, but this is the first time I've actually liked him in a role.
So - to the not so great parts of the movie.
The cinematography, which I felt had potential to be great, was lacking. I am not sure why this had to be in 3D. While there were a couple of places that it might have enhanced the movie, it was more of a distraction then a real effort to add depth. The party scene was so flashy I found it visually annoying, the words swirling on the screen distracting, the car scenes seemed out of focus and blurry. There were times when the movie seemed cartoon-like.
Wile Leo was great as Gatsby, I was disappointed in most of the other actors. There were scenes early in the movie that felt more like a high school acting troupe then highly paid actors. I didn't like Carey Mulligan as Daisy. To me, she didn't have the chemistry that she needed with DiCaprio to really make Daisy work. If I'm supposed to believe these two people were once madly in love, well she didn't do that for me. Daisy is also supposed to be a jewel. Cold but flashy - I just didn't get that from Mulligan.
While I was not disappointed in his acting, I didn't like the way Nick's character, played by Toby McGuire, was portrayed. As the narrator, I am supposed to trust Nick's view of the story. By turning him into an alcoholic, I feel like the character has lost his ability to be a reliable narrator.
So, if you still want to see the movie - check it out. My suggestion is, skip it and wait for it to come to the dollar cinema.
(Look below for reads of the week)
Fun Reading - Just finished Eleanor & Park (review coming later this week)
Work Reading - The Skillful Team Leader
Currently Reading - A Separate Peace