Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Great Gatsby review

I went with my niece to see The Great Gatsby today. She is a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan. I am a Baz Luhrman fan. His films are always visually striking though his storytelling can be shaky. And that's true of The Great Gatsby. The main problem is it's way too long at 148 minutes. It begins and ends well but the middle of the film sags. It seemed to lose its way and then recovered in the last half hour. Of course everyone knows that the film is based on the famed novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald about the enigmatic Jay Gatsby. The story is told in flashback by Gatsby's best friend Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). Carraway's psychiatrist suggest that he write a book about Gatsby. The film is set in the 1920s so the visuals are outstanding. A lot of credit goes to cinematographer Simon Duggan and Oscar winning production and costume designer Catherine Martin. She is married to Luhrman and has worked on all his films. Carraway observes the complicated relationship between Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), his former lover Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and her current husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Not surprisingly, the relationship turns volatile and it doesn't seem like any of them knows what they want to do. And there is also Gatsby's involvement in organized crime. This was before the 1929 stock market crash. The wealthy like Gatsby were seemingly very carefree and were always hosting wild parties. We get to see the underlying tension beneath that. It takes too long to get there but eventually those tensions between these characters comes to the surface and things pick up at the end of the film. In the end, we're supposed to be conflicted about Gatsby and I think the film is very successful in portraying him as ambiguous. DiCaprio gets a lot of credit for that. I just think the film takes too long to tell the story. I also didn't care much for the use of rap music in this film. It's a period piece. Use period music. And I didn't think the 3D helped the film. The Great Gatsby is a good film but not a great film. Check out the trailer.

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