Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Great Gatsby (2013) Review:

Leonardo DiCaprio just can't keep himself away from movies like these can he. To many novelists, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is of the most popular of romance drama stories. Nor is it the first time that this particular story has been adapted to the big screen. However, add a dash of DiCaprio and the whole magnitude of the movie changes completely. There's no doubt about it - Leonardo DiCaprio is a very talented actor. It's not only apparent in how he acts in the role he chooses, but also the role he chooses specifically. Each character that he has mostly chosen in the past do not stray far from each other, which displays his watchful eye of what role he can fulfill.

Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio)
What makes the storytelling unique is that of like most romance dramas where the story consistently revolves around the character of main focus, it is instead told from a third person perspective. The person describing to the audience his view and feelings is Nick Carraway (Tobey Maquire), a man deeply affected by Gatsby. This is a better mean of characterizing Gatsby artistically - so audiences don't have to come up with the description themselves. Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce's writing reflect that not only in creativeness but also in dialog, texturally speaking. Most of the vocabulary is upper class and the words reflect various visuals. The one I didn't understand are the glasses on the billboard - the significance?

For the most part, it is all very good writing - especially by the end where practically everything is explained. The only things that should've been fixed were Maguire's character and a Chicago subplot. It is great that Nick Carraway does most of the explanation to the story but his development as an individual takes a backseat. This may leave some viewers frustrated that the main focus was Gatsby but Carraway received little attention (even though he’s not of main focus). Also throughout the movie Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) receives frequent calls from Chicago about SOMETHING. However, that something is never talked about openly - the end doesn’t even explain that one. What was the importance of that if it was never elaborated on?

Other than that, everything else is fantastic. Viewers will find the idea of contemporary pop culture music and early 1900s fashion together, will blend nicely during the party scenes. This is one film that is able to defy those rules where putting contemporary music into a film significantly dates it. Here it's the total opposite. It feels timeless. The cinematography by Simon Duggan is beautiful, although I'm not sure why I didn’t find it as prevalent in Killer Elite (2011) or Knowing (2009). Craig Armstrong who produced the score did a decent job as well. Since there was also a soundtrack, his music wasn't always around, but when it was heard, his tunes helped with the emotions. They weren't anything that defined the film though.

Tom Buchanan (Edgerton)
Lastly, the characters (besides Maguire's) were well performed and as developed. DiCaprio portrays Gatsby with likability, even when he's nervous. Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan is sweet and gives her character the same kind of emotion any girl would if they were in the situation that she was in. But the guy who gave probably the second best performance was Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan. Buchanan has a pompous attitude and business tycoon voice. The man is quite versatile. But, if there's one thing everyone should learn from this tale, is that secret love triangles NEVER work. It is a very difficult connection to keep together.

With an adaptation that'll have English teachers fainting, DiCaprio and the rest of the cast give respectable performances. The visuals are saturated with literary references as is the high quality dialog. Just a few areas in the writing should've either been expanded on or left out completely.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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