Updated: Sep 1, 2021
“you have a place in my heart
no one else could ever have”
There’s just something about Di Caprio’s movies, isn't there?
One word for Baz Luhrmann's screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's imperishable The Great Gatsby would be ‘grand’.
The movie is endlessly extravagant with its dialogues dripping in emotion and razzle-dazzle of the ambience. This film awakens something in you, a memory of when you were crazy in love with a person or in love with an idea for what your life should be. Gatsby 2013 is beautiful, over the top, heart-wrenching, and thoroughly enjoyable flick that I shall always highly recommend.
THE DIRECTION AND PRODUCTION
This enormous production begins by being over-the-top and moves on from there. The scenes are a visual feast, even if it is at sharp odds with the refined nature of the author's original prose. The ambience and story provide a sense of intoxication and, most importantly, the core thematic concerns pertaining to the American dream, self-reinvention and love lost, regained and lost again are beautifully addressed. Opulence defines the essence of the production, led by Martin's sets and costumes. But no matter how frenzied and elaborate and (occasionally) distracting his technique may be, Luhrmann's commitment and personal connection to the material remain evident, which keeps the film, vibrantly alive while remaining faithful to the spirit (if maybe not the letter or the tone, of its actual source).
The storyline is simple yet not too restricted. A tragic romance. Jay Gatsby (played by DiCaprio) and Daisy ( played by Mulligan) fall in star-crossed love. Poor but ambitious, Gatsby reinvents himself to be worthy of her but Daisy is won by an aristocratic, womanizing Tom (Edgerton). The story that unwinds is narrated by Daisy's cousin, Nick Carraway (Maguire). Jay arrives in 1920s New York, abuzz with a “golden roar”. The stocks and skyscrapers are shooting up, the morals crashing down. A suddenly rich Gatsby becomes NY's newest celebrity, throwing his amazing (Disney inspired?) mansion open for fantastic parties and befriending Nick in the hope that he'll bring
Daisy back to him. Nick accompanies Gatsby for lunch with notorious gambling associate Meyer Wolfshiem (surprise surprise, played by Amitabh Bachchan). Gatsby wants to believe he can rewind the clock to the moment when they fell in love, to the purity of what they once had. “If I could just get back to the start,” he says, to which Nick says, “You can't repeat the past.”
There are visible crescendos in the movie like the scene of a sweltering afternoon where, in a room at the Plaza, everyone's truths come tumbling out, followed by tragedy on the road back and, ultimately, in Gatsby's pool. The second half is slowed by too much commentary by Nick, who has become a somewhat of a bore by now.
After seeing this film I was a little disappointed to see so many negative reviews. The main problem with this film is in the first 20-30 minutes; giving away nothing, the film begins at a brisk and flamboyant pace but after a while it hits the ‘Baz's golden point’, and slows down to absolute perfection. That first half hour will leave a few shaking their heads, but if you power through it, you will find The Great Gatsby in all its glory.
The cast is beautiful as is the script. The achingly romantic and hopeful Jay Gatsby is played impeccably by DiCaprio. The very beginning of the film has you itching to see Gatsby and hear him speak, and when he finally does, he holds on and captivates you throughout the film. DiCaprio embodies a dream and makes you root for him, even though he is shown to be a liar and a man who is desperately trying to steal another's wife but all that does not matter because we see the gentle child like frailty and innocence in him and identify with it. Calling DiCaprio a brilliant actor would be like calling Coronavirus a flu. He was perfect for the role and gave yet another glorious performance.
Daisy is a difficult character for any actress to embody to everyone's satisfaction because she's a woman onto whom the reader tends to project one's own ideal. But Mulligan was able to play the spoiled and dazed rich girl well, while adding an emotional dimension to the character. I must say that I had my doubts about Mulligan pulling off the role of Daisy, who in my mind was supposed to be flawlessly beautiful. But it made Gatsby's love for her even more powerful; she was beautiful to him and that's all that mattered. Nevertheless, viewers will debate whether or not Mulligan has the beauty or the dream qualities required for the part, but she lucidly portrays the desperate tear her character feels between her unquestionable, undying love for Gatsby and fear of her husband. Edgerton is excellent as the proud, entitled and seething bully Tom. Tobey Mcguire ‘s storyline had an interesting deviation from the novel which was a new, welcome take.
Narrators or observers like Nick are almost always uncomfortable fits on screen. Especially when they're far more plain and bland than everyone else around them but still the best judge to make assessments about people. Nick isn't actually living life, rather he’s than standing to the side of it. There’s also an element of hero-worship towards Gatsby that distorts the narration to be more wistful. Maguire becomes tiresome by the film's second half and a reduction of Nick's concluding commentary would have helped.
All in all, I think it is a must-see for all who love a good, heartfelt story that is greater than life and hits you where it hurts.