I admit, I decided to read the book after I had decided I wanted to see the film. I was attracted to the trailer and there was a lot of buzz surrounding it but I thought that reading the book before hand would be the proper thing to do, I did it with The Hunger Games and I did it with this.
I loved the book, it’s my sort of thing. The roar of the 20’s, Jazz and New York. I finished it and did the thing you do at the end of all great books, you stop for a few moments after and just think. I tend to reread the last few lines, let them sink in as I let the whole book, the whole intertwined piece envelope me. Then you just let it go and put the book down, it will stay with you for a while and maybe you will instantly re-read it or recommend it but in the end it’s that moment after you finish it for the first time that is really memorable.
I therefore became very excited to see the film, though I’d seen it get bad reviews it didn’t perturb me. After a long time waiting to see it I finally did and this is what I thought.
I really rather enjoyed it. I loved Leo as Gatsby, there’s a reason why he’s typecast as these sorts of roles and that’s because he’s better than anyone else. He fitted the role like a glove and outshone everyone else. Toby was good as Nick, though a little cheerful for my taste but after a while he sort of achieved the right balance in the role. Carey was beautiful and enchanting as Daisy, the sort of person who you would obsess over whilst the other cast members fitted their characters in ways you could agree with, inhabiting them and successfully portraying them to make you think that’s the image you always had in your mind.
The visual effects whilst distracting sometimes managed to capture some of the grandeur and it’s obvious leanings on the 3D format were barely problematic. Luhrmanns direction was a tad unsatisfying, the film was very big and bold which suited the story but it didn’t handle the quiet moments too well, often not giving them time to breathe or enough space to just explore them. The use of 3D and heavy visual effects gave any nice direction a hue of unreality that made it predictable and flat but he was still able to bring out nice grounded performances from his cast which were the really important thing.
The music was always going to be the odd thing about this film, a selection of rap songs and such (I am not that well versed in that music as you can tell) but they managed to fit quite well, especially in the big party scenes. It also had a nice selection of great old songs to fit the era and the score was nice for background. Clearly the artistic choice was to highlight some of the films deeper themes with a contemporary soundtrack and visual style and it’s a choice that makes a kind of sense. It could have been better smaller but I didn’t not enjoy what it was.
As an adaptation of the book it managed to get all the important things in (although it is a short book) but characters such as Jordan and Meyer were a tad short changed with her and Nicks relationship barely shown. The parties were very vibrant and exciting and were the best scenes to capture the feel of them in the book. Gatsbys reveal was rightly treated in a grandiose way, one that I particularly loved. The film uses a standard voice over from Maguire to settle the tone of the book but ultimately gives an excuse to quote some of Fitzgeralds best narration. Maybe a left turn into an adaptation that veers away from the source material might have been more interesting, as it is, this is a straightforward adaptation that is very enjoyable and will only make you conjure up the fond memories of the book and film combined as a whole, the story and the setting making you feel warm inside.
Overall I loved it, great performances and middling everything else made it a film I would buy and see again, not matching the book but not needing to. Just sit back and enjoy, it’s certainly not a bad film.
Rating: B 7/10