The Great Gatsby (2013)

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We watched films about American history for seven weeks straight in school and our big finale was going to see The Great Gatsby in the cinema, representing The Roaring Twenties in all its glory.

This film was also one of my most anticipated films… well, ever, until a few months ago when skepticism about it started to spread1 and then it became scary. I read the book in anticipation, loved the book, and now – what if they’d screw this up? A week before seeing the film, my excpectations were ‘meh’ and that was my general consensus of it as well. Meh.

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Not that I’m saying a lot was bad about it. To illustrate that, each image in this post has Leo DiCaprio because a) he was undoubtedly the best thing in the film and b) he looks so damn stylish throughout.2 Carey Mulligan was pretty decent too, though, and Elizabeth Debicki simply blew my mind and I would have loved seeing more of her.

I also loved the beginning bits, like Nick’s first time getting drunk and the party that ensued. Before it got overwhelming, the flashiness was simply cool and again, Leo outdid himself and made all his scenes the most memorable ones of them all.

Some of the songs were brilliant and fit there well – Florence + the Machine, Lana Del Rey and The xx all did a great job. Lana especially as it brought a lot of power into the scenes in which it was.

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What I actually disliked most was how they made the film about romance. If you have read Fitzgerald’s book, you know that the love plot was much less significant there and blowing it so big in the film took some of the charm away.

And even then it was kind of hard to follow the plot – at least for me. When things happened, they happened straight after one another, being fun at first and headache-inducing later. And then there were moments when I felt like falling asleep because a) nothing was happening, b) too much was happening or c) everything that was happening was irrelevant. What was obviously meant to be the film’s biggest asset and appeal is that in a way but at the same time, becomes its greatest fault. All of this enhanced by the 3-freaking-D, of course.

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Speaking of 3D – I did love the beginning, the opening credits or its beginning or whatever it was.

There is a really bad effect some films have – they are neither good nor bad and it’s not easy to explain it but you cannot overlook it. The Great Gatsby, with all its fancy party scene and costumes and music… it still lacks the something to make it great. Fitzgerald’s original title for the novel – Gatsby – would’ve actually sufficed here.

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1  or perhaps reached me only then. I don’t know. I’m not… really, I don’t know.
2 and c) the whole thing where Jack, who learned a lot about being a rich gentleman, went down with Titanic in 1912 and Gatsby, the rich gentleman, with his shady past lurked around in 1922, is pretty impressive. And all the other parallels with both Titanic and Inception.

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16 responses to “The Great Gatsby (2013)

  1. Good review Elene. A mighty fine-looking movie, but nothing else to really keep it going. Performances are either very good, or absolutely horrendous here.

    • I agree! They relied on the effects so much that they forgot about everything else… and I was especially disappointed with Nick’s portrayal. Did you like Leo here though? 😀

  2. Still haven’t seen this Elena, and to be honest I’m not in any rush.

  3. There were actually a lot of things I liked about Gatsby & Daisy’s romance – not the least of which is how tragic it is. Gatsby’s a man who could have anything, and here he is pining about “the one who got away”. Daisy, meanwhile, can live on forever in this situation that is making her so happy if she can only bring herself to lie to Tom and say she never loved him…but she knows that isn’t true.

    I’ve always been fascinated by broken things, and few things are as broken as Jay and Daisy.

    Great post – glad you came away loving the book at least!

    • Hmmm… if you put it that way… it was fascinating but I thought there was too much of it – the film being a romance film while it was only a tiny part in the book. But the dynamic was definitely interesting.

      And thanks for commenting!

  4. Just “Gatsby” would have been a great title, yes. Well, like I’ve said on the podcast, it’s a solid “meh” for me as well: it looks terrible, but there’s something about it that keeps me from dismissing it entirely – perhaps the actors, since I agree that DiCaprio was good. The thing is, looking back, I can only remember a couple of great songs, insane party scenes, flying quotes, and old sport.

  5. Pingback: Everybody’s Talkin’ 6 – 21 (Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective

  6. That review basically sums up like what I will probably feel after this movie 🙂 I usually like Luhrman’s style but this seems like waaaay too much so I will wait for DVD for this one.

  7. I wish Baz had just gone all in and set this film in modern times. The bombastic elements coupled with the modern soundtrack just did not work for me, as a film set in the 20’s.. Now if that was happening in 2008 then he might have been on to something.

  8. I really liked this film. I was worried at first because I thought they were going to butcher the novel but I thought it was a great adaptation. Luhrmann’s visual style fitted perfectly especially in showing excess (think of the ridiculous room overstuffed with flowers) which not only captured the mood of the time but also shows the obsessiveness of Gatsby.

    • Absolutely! The style, overall, was one of the best things I’ve seen in a while even if it sometimes went in the exact opposite way compared to what I had imagined when reading the book. Oh and so sorry for the late reply!

  9. I really didn’t like it either. I’d argue it was the biggest disappointment of 2013

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