Saturday, May 11, 2013


I'm not going to even begin to compare THE GREAT GATSBY with the book of the same name primarily because I never read this classic.  There.  I said it.  Embarrassment be gone!  The book, a favorite of my 18 year old daughter, had been setting on the kitchen counter begging me to read it.  I once again ignored the obvious calling from one of the greatest American novelists.  However, there is one perk to this situation:  I can review this movie for just what it was; a movie.  For those of you in the same boat as me (it's a small boat, I know, and not The Titanic...pun intended), the story is a quintessential love story.  Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they get separated, girl marries another, but the love between the two is still there.  Will they ever have a second chance at love together or has too much water passed under the bridge?  There you have it.  This story line is what the great romantic books and movies are made of.  What makes it great, however, are the characters within the story and the depth to which they are developed.  I'm guessing F. Scott Fitzgerald nailed it in the book version.  Baz Luhrmann, director and screen writer of the movie version, did not.

The roaring 20's...oh, how I romanticize that era.  The clothes, the hair, the music, the parties, the love of life in that era was like no other!  Baz Luhrmann, if you recall, also wrote and directed "Moulin Rouge."  Some of the over-the-top costumes, sets, and scenes reminded me of that movie of which I was not a fan.  The music used in "The Great Gatsby" was not the typical 20's genre.  Although there were some songs I recognized, the majority of the background and occasionally foreground music was of the hip-hop type.  Now, before we judge this juxtaposition of music with era, let's remember that everyone seems to LOVE that QT does that in his westerns ("Django") and other era specific movies.  If the music somehow adds and does not detract from the overall feel of the movie, I think we should forgive and actually give credit to Baz for having the courage to do so.  Unfortunately, the music, to me was just all wrong.  It most definitely detracted from the image of the film.  "The Great Gatsby" also missed in the costuming.  To me, it just didn't typify the era.  Don't get me wrong as there were some amazing party dresses and men's suits, but I had just expected to be wow'ed.  I wasn't.

On to the overall movie...It was a time-consuming start to the film.  The characters were set up and explained in excruciating length.  I found my mind wandering with the monotonous and droning narrative.  Even with all this explanation, I still didn't connect with any of the characters.   Everyone seemed to be so one-dimensional that I was bored.  I expected the characters to be vivacious, complex, and energetic, but what I got was the opposite.  The attempt at vivaciousness just resulted in corny and over-the-top acting.  Carey Mulligan was beautiful, but that wasn't enough to carry the main role.  Tobey Maguire who I loved in the recent "The Details," was also so flat that a cardboard cutout could have played the role just as well.  Sorry, Tobey.  Leonardo DiCaprio had beautiful blue eyes.  That's all.  I knew there was so much more to his inner character that seemed to be just bursting to get out on the screen, but it never happened.  Thankfully, I was able to look at those intense blue eyes.  Then we had Joel Edgerton who has been underrated.  His acting abilities shined in "Wish You Were Here," but the over-the-top acting in "The Great Gatsby" just wasn't his style.  The entire movie seemed as if we were all just on a movie set.  As this was a story told from the perspective of the main character's recollection, I can forgive the  exaggerated forms.  However, there has to be a balance to make you care about the characters.  Again, that wasn't there.  When the story finally came into full view, I wanted to know what happened in the end.  It truly was a beautiful story.  Unfortunately, it was a beautiful story poorly told.

This was the fourth attempt at bringing this love story to the silver screen.  I tried to watch the Robert Redford version as well, but didn't make it through the film.  I, again, was bored.  Maybe the lesson learned from this should be to leave this classic alone.  Go read the book if you haven't.  I will.

4 REELS because I'm hoping that this film will inspire future fashion gurus to bring that era back!


  1. Nice Review Pamela. Although I have never been a fan of Baz Luhrmann I still plan to catch Gatsby when it hits the uk, despite is pretty poor response.

    1. Thanks, Allan! Yes, it seems that you either love Baz or you don't. I'm also in the "don't" camp. You'll have to let me know when you review it when it hits the UK! As always, I appreciate the comments!