Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Great Gatsby | Directed by Baz Luhrmann | Screenplay by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce

The American classic The Great Gatsby (click the link to see my classics review and hear about the general storyline, symbolism, and characters) just got revamped for a new film adaptation, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby himself, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan.

About a decade ago, a made-for-TV movie was created based on the novel, and let's just say that this new film's trailers looked absolutely amazing after watching that (kind of odd) adaptation. So, between being a fan of the book, the promising soundtrack, the seemingly perfect cast, and comparisons to a worst-case filmographic scenario, my expectations were set extremely high. I wasn't disappointed at all; only one or two nitpicky things irked me, but other than that, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby basically got a perfect adaptation.

I ended up seeing this film in 3D despite that I'm not a 3D enthusiast and I honestly thought it was pointless to put a non-action movie in 3D. However, there were some elements that looked fabulous in 3D... Everything in this movie looks so pretty, and I didn't have any issues looking at three dimensional snowflakes and glitter.

Anyhow, as far as the actual content, this cast is almost exactly how I envisioned the characters. It's kind of creepy. Leonardo DiCaprio kept Gatsby classy, Tobey Maguire kept Nick an observer. But I especially enjoyed how Carey Mulligan portrayed Daisy Buchanan; she was spot-on. She succeeded at being flighty without being ditzy, and she was vulnerable in an innocent way but not a ridiculous way. I don't think anyone else will ever be a better Daisy.

But as I previously mentioned, I anticipated the music in addition to the cast. A little score is made from songs on the soundtrack, and The XX's "Together" and Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" are most prominent. Being a fan of both songs, I was so excited to hear these different movements extracted from the originals. I feel like they really captured the emotion of the film in an accurate way. Altogether, it felt sort of relaxing with a haunted edge, but with all the party scenes, it doesn't always sound like that. Modern pop music is used when the characters are partying and drinking, and though that may seem out-of-place for a movie based on the 1920s, it didn't bother me. I understood it. If a bunch of big band music was used, I don't feel like audiences would clearly get the picture that the characters were getting so hammered, and that even though that time period was nearly a century ago, people still have fun the same way.

Though the music made the movie more dynamic, I must say that this film's pace was so even and the content was nearly identical to that of the book. None of the changes were too crazy from my view, but I was a little irritated that Tom Buchanan's abusive nature toward Daisy was completely left out. It kind of made a part towards the end, where Gatsby keeps watch by Daisy's house because he doesn't trust Tom, seem a little irrational. I didn't feel like Gatsby then had a legitimate reason to worry about Daisy's well-being when she was alone with Tom without that important detail.

A couple other noticeable changes includes Nick's relationship with Jordan, which we don't hear about much at all, and the falling action. These are changes I don't really care about. I feel like if Jordan and Nick's relationship was pursued in the film, it could possibly take away from the need-to-know events and create somewhat of a plot maze. (Intricacy seems to work better in books that it does on screen.) The falling action is cut just a smidge short, but once again, I think what they cut helped the story as a film. It's nothing even remotely close to being an extreme cut from my standpoint, with the exception of Gatsby's father not being included.

Needless to say, I absolutely loved this new adaptation; other than my two small issues, it did a fantastic job of bringing this classic to life. The filmmakers, cast, and musicians that were part of this certainly did The Great Gatsby justice, and any future adaptations will have a have very a hard time making one better.

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