Plot: An apsipring writer falls under the spell of an aloof millionaire with designs for the young scribe's unhappily married cousin in director Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's celebrated novel. It's the spring of 1922, and wide-eyed Midwesterner Nick Carraway has just moved to New York City in pursuit of the American Dream. Settling into a home next door to wealthy Jay Gatsby, Carraway grows increasingly fascinated by the elaborate parties held at his new neighbor's estate. Meanwhile, across the bay, Carraway's cousin Daisy flounders in her marriage to philandering aristocrat Tom Buchanan. (via.)
Matt's Rating: B-
Nicole's Rating: B-
Nicole: I'd have to say it's up there for me as well. That being said, what'd you think of Baz Luhrmann's interpretation of the famous text?
M: I don't think anybody is ever going to turn it into a good movie.
N: So you didn't like it?
M: I liked it better than the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow Gatsby.
N: I've never seen that one. But I kind of feel the same way. There was a lot that I liked and a lot that was true to the novel. The actors all fit their characters. The opulence of the time was very... opulent. And yet, something feels like it was missing.
M: I don't know what opulence means.
N: Geez, Matt.
M: There were definitely more things to like than there weren't. I liked the added storyline about Nick in the sanitorium. It was a nice way to make his narration more than just narration.
N: That was definitely a nice touch. And again, Tobey Maguire really fit the role of Nick Carraway as I envisioned him in my mind - as did all the actors.
M: All of the actors were good, but the standout to me was Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan. I don't think the acting or the writing was the problem.
N: But there was a problem... right? I'm finding it so hard to pin down.
M: It was too glitzy of a movie to be an accurate depiction of the novel.
N: I absolutely disagree.
M: How can you disagree?
N: Didn't we just look up the word opulence? Gatsby's parties were over the top, ridiculous affairs - rumors of which Gatsby hoped would draw Daisy to his home. Yes, those scenes were completely Luhrmanned, but I think that's really his main strength as a director when tackling this book. It's the glitz, and glam, and over the top-ness of that Jazz Age/Prohibition Era.
M: I have no problem with his parties being over the top. But the whole movie is over the top. Klipspringer's character was a great example of what I mean. In the book he's just some guy that sleeps at Gatsby's house and plays the piano. But in the movie, he plays a giant organ and is a descendant of Beethoven. The entire interpretation was treated this way. And it shouldn't be. Gatsby's facade is larger than life, but nothing else about the story is. And that was missing.
N: So the heart of it?
M: Yeah. I feel like the heart of Fitzgerald's story, of living in excess and wealth and the dangers of it took a backseat to Gatsby and his love story.
N: Agreed. It's the brilliance of the novel that's missing. There was nothing technically wrong with the movie. But I just don't think anyone will ever be able to capture what The Great Gatsby truly is. I wonder why they don't stop trying?
M: They don't stop trying, because like the douchebags in the film, Hollywood continues to try and create something that can't be created.
N: By douchebags, you mean - Daisy, Tom, Gatsby just going along with their ridiculous plans and hurting everyone around them?
M: Yes. I mean Baz Luhrmann didn't do a bad job. I just think the genius of the novel comes from Fitzgerald talking about extravagance and excess without actually talking about it. So there's nothing melodramatic about the novel.
N: So what's your final word?
M: It's as good of an interpretation as we're going to get. But the source material is just not conducive to film. B-.
N: I agree with you there, I think. B-. And please, read the book.