Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Great Gatsby

Sometimes you write off a movie without even seeing it, or even with knowing very little about the production. That's what happened with me when I heard Baz Luhrmann would be reteaming with Leonardo DiCaprio to film F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, I book I hold dearly, and when I saw the high octane trailers with Jay-Z and Kanye West on the soundtrack my resolve against the film was reinforced. But today I finally caved in and went to see the film and found myself pleasantly surprised. Yes the film is bloated, glitzy, and overlong, and the hip hop soundtrack truly is an abomination, but I never expected Luhrmann, in all his ostentation, to show a reverence to the source material. There are some changes to the structure: many have griped about Nick Carraway telling the story while recovering in a sanitarium, but I think it solves the fundamental problem regarding the narration. The film language used to convey  Fitzgerald's ideas are also handled quite well and often I was brought back to those vivid images and scenes: the green light, the all-seeing eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, the valley of the ashes, Gatsby churlishly waited for Daisy to arrive for their tea date, and so on. DiCaprio is quite good in the title role, but the biggest surprise for me was Tobey Maguire, who I thought was wrong for the part of Nick but actually suits the role quite nicely. Carey Mulligan was also the right choice for Daisy and I though Joel Edgerton, though correctly cast, was too much in playing the brutish Tom Buchanan, sporting an unnatural American accent. Again the film is overlong and many scenes play out longer than they should and I found myself appreciating the quieter moments. All and all, it's an entertaining film that despite its flourishes and a few misgivings, does the novel well.