The Great Gatsby (2013) [film]

When it was announced that Baz Luhrmann was directing a new version of The Great Gatsby, one of my favourite novels, for the big screen, I was excited, and perhaps a little apprehensive. As stories came out about it, little snippets of news, I grew alternately more excited and more apprehensive. Now I've seen it, and I feel...


'Meh' is probably not the reaction a person should have to this film. A lot of it is spectacle, great zoomings-in from a whole city to one person, wild parties, fast cars, and probably comes across much better in 3D at the cinema than on a little 2D screen (I saw it as an in-flight movie). I enjoyed the spectacular aspect; it wasn't historically accurate but it was glittery and giddy and all the things we want the Jazz Age to be.

I was also surprised by the soundtrack. I'm not a fan of modern 'urban' musical styles - I just don't connect with the sound, and choose to listen to other styles. Knowing Jay-Z was doing the soundtrack to Gatsby, I expected to find it intrusive and out-of-place, but it was blended with 1920s tunes here and there and worked very well.

So, looks good, sounds good. Why the 'meh'? Basically, the characters. Tom and Daisy have a complex relationship, Gatsby and Daisy have a complex relationship. In this film, Tom is an utter oaf and his mistress Myrtle completely vulgar. You can't imagine why anyone would want either of them. Because of that, you should root for Daisy and Gatsby at least a little, but Daisy comes across as a drip until almost the very end, where she will not lie to her lover, and Gatsby is, well, an arse. In the Robert Redford/ Mia Farrow version of the story, you do feel Gatsby and Daisy are trying to reclaim their teenaged dreams in some sunlit, impossible time. Redford's Gatsby is a dreamer. Di Caprio's is ambitious, hardheaded - more accurate for a character who's dragged himself up from nothing, working with bootleggers and criminals, but it seems odd that he's so hardheaded even with Daisy. To Redford's Gatsby, Daisy is a dream he might just be able to grasp. To Di Caprio's, she is a property and social status to be acquired.

And so, I don't think I'll go out of my way to watch this again. It looks great, but it's not a film that really touches me.


  1. I feel like the film was based on the spark notes edition of the novel! It seemed like someone got the general gist of the book, picked out some lovely quotes, but missed the entire essence of each character.
    It sure was a pretty film, and the historical inaccuracies bothered me less than I anticipated, but it failed to move me the way that it should have. The most moving parts of the entire film had to be the quotes they borrowed from the novel, and that was only because I knew how powerful they were when I read the book.
    Also, Di Caprio's accent on "old sport" drove me nuts.


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