5/10
I did not entirely hate it
11 May 2013
What I thought worked in Luhrmann's Gatsby:

I thought DiCaprio was a better Gatsby than Robert Redford (Redford was too old and underplayed the character). I thought DiCaprio understood a complex character and was adequately convincing.

I Love Carey Mulligan and thought she was mostly convincing as Daisy.

I liked it when the story stuck to Fitzgerald - which was about 75% of the time. (having just read the book again in the last 6 months, I recognized most of the Dialogue as true to the book)

I thought the Costume Design was exquisite. Catherine Martin has done costume work for all of Baz Luhrmann's films and won an academy award for costumes in Moulin Rouge!(as well as being nominated for Romeo + Juliet and Australia. Her work is again superior here - one of the real strengths of the film...

I thought the 2nd half of the movie was much better than the 1st. While I generally did not like the soundtrack I loved that Gershwin's' Rhapsody in Blue' snuck in there in the first scenes in Manhattan.

The "Valley of Ashes" and the "Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, Occulist" sign are really well done - but sadly, the scenes there are so rushed and so downplayed as to prevent that location from being the symbol of death Fitzgerald intended it to be...

The scene in Nick's house where Daisy is invited to tea and re-meets Gatsby.

What I did not like about it:

Every scene with Tobey Maguire in it. His Nick Carraway is too much of Gatsby's lapdog. He is too wide-eyed throughout the story. By the end of the movie I was praying for George Wilson to shoot him.

Luhrmann's story telling device (Nick Carraway in a Sanitarium telling the story to a Doctor who encourages him to write it) - Really Baz Luhrman, you're gonna improve on Fitzgerald?

Luhrmann's other story telling device: the words on the screen. Yuck!

The Art-direction. Everything was too over-the-top and garish. Gatsby's house looks like a Disney creation. One might argue that this is okay because the new-rich are often garish. But part of the character that Fitzgerald wrote was that he was convincing as a monied man.

The sound-track of the 1st half of the movie. Typically Luhrmann; and I have loved it in other contexts. It did not work in Gatsby. After the last party scene, the soundtrack was much better and the rest of the movie felt like Fitzgerald to me.

BTW - I generally am a fan of Baz Luhrmann's work. I loved Romeo + Juliet while it was being panned by professional critics. And I found Moulin Rouge! delightful..

Moet Champaign (which apparently bought huge stock in this movie)

Joel Edgerton ('nuff said)

The over-the-top garishness of the production is so distracting that the great social themes of the day are almost completely lost. They are so subtle int he book and they must be subtly depicted in cinema. They are so subtle as to be almost entirely lost in this production. When I first read the book I felt such sympathy for almost every character (except Tom Buchanan). I did not really care about the characters in this movie at all.

That Damn green light - much too much. It is a powerful but subtle symbol in the book. Let a symbol be a symbol without having to constantly refer to it and without hitting your audience over the head with it.

Because I did not think it entirely sucked, I will give it a 5. Adolescent girls will disagree with me (even as they are failing their Gatsby finals because they based it this mediocre retelling of the story). Fitzgerald and Gatsby fans will think I am being too generous

Note to Hollywood - If you are going to make a movie based on a great work of literature, respect and humbly submit to that greatness, and make a movie worthy of the original.
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