Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Book to Film Review: The Great Gatsby

About the film
The Great Gatsby is a 2013 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel of the same name and it was directed by Baz Luhrmanm. The film has a run time of 142 minutes and is rated  

Nick Carraway is looking back on his life while spending time in a rehab centre. His doctor is encouraging him to talk about what got him to that place. After saying that he once wrote a book, Nick’s doctor wants him to write about a memory to help him to write again and so begins the tale of how he met Jay Gatsby.

The year is 1922 and Nick has just moved to New York to work on Wall Street. The house he finds to rent in Long Island is small but just what he needs. The house next door however is massive and Nick soon learns that the famous Gatsby lives there. His house is famous for the huge and elaborate parties that are held there every week. Nick eventually receives a personal invitation to one party and hopes that he can finally meet the man he’s heard so much, and so little, about. Once at the party though, Nick realises that no one seems to know Gatsby but they’re just there anyway. But, Gatsby finds Nick and introduces himself and the two instantly hit it off.

Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan also lives in New York and it turns out, she’s one of the few people who actual know, or knew, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is asking a massive favour from Nick and it’s no coincidence that he invited him to that one party…

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby
Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway
Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan
Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan
Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker
Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson
Jason Clarke as George Wilson
Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfshiem
Jack Thompson as Dr. Walter Perkins

What I thought
Although a classic novel, I have never read, nor watched another film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann directed this version and so far, I haven’t been disappointed with any of his films.

The film begins with introducing Nick as a main character. He’s clearly in some form of rehab facility and not looking too well. Nick once wanted to be a writer but wasn’t successful. His doctor encourages him to write down a memory in order to be able to write again. His memory is of Gatsby. The beginning of the film really focuses on the mystery surrounding Gatsby. Everyone knows where his house is and his parties are very well-known but no one really knows who he is or where he comes from. There are rumours flying about all over the place but nothing is concrete information. I really enjoyed the anticipation that the beginning of the film gave. Never did you know what you could believe about Gatsby. At times, you didn’t even know whether or not he truly existed as no one knew anything about him. Obviously, I knew that he did and who was playing the part but it didn’t take anything away from the mystery in the plot.

The Great Gatsby is said to be a love story but I’m not sure that I completely agree with that. Gatsby himself has known Nick’s cousin Daisy before 1922 and is absolutely in love with her. He enlists Nick’s help to be able to see Daisy once again and from here, things get quite dark and twisted. Gatsby is driven by his need to see Daisy again and to be the man he thinks she would want him to be, hence the massive parties and splashing around of money. Instead of being about love, I see The Great Gatsby to be more about pure need and the desire to make something better of yourself, no matter what the consequences are.

The casting in this film is absolutely fabulous. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Gatsby and does so with such flair and elegance at the same time. He, along with his background, has an air of mystery surrounding him at all times. He’s also quite the strange character, going from one mood to another in a matter of seconds. DiCaprio was easily the perfect choice for Gatsby. His character is a hard one to play due to the many inner demons that he has and DiCaprio shows the troubled thoughts extremely well.

Toby Maguire on the other hand was a bit of a let-down. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of his anyway but I didn’t like him or his character at all. Maguire plays Nick who is a pretty whiney and annoying kind of man. He’s trying to make it in New York after a failed career as a writer and generally comes across as interfering and he didn’t help much in any situation. Actually, Maguire played whiney and annoying really well but I’m not sure that’s how his character was supposed to be portrayed.

Another issue I had with the film was the soundtrack. Luhrmann is known for taking a classic and putting a modern twist on it but I felt as though this one was pushed too far. Jay-Z was the album's executive producer and worked closely with Luhrmann on the whole soundtrack to mix contemporary, hip hop and music from the 20s. However, the soundtrack was far too modern for my liking and I don’t think that it captured the feel of the 20s well enough. With songs like Black to Black and Crazy in Love on the soundtrack, I just couldn’t get away from the modern feel. However, if I were to listen to the soundtrack on its own, I would like it. It just didn’t go perfectly with the film.

Overall, The Great Gatsby is a wonderful film with a few small flaws. The film is entertaining and exciting with a near perfect cast though. 

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