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About the Movie
The uniquely imaginative Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!, Australia) tackles F. Scott Fitzgerald's landmark novel, The Great Gatsby, with blockbuster star Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. Spider-Man's Tobey Maguire stars as the Fitzgerald-like would-be writer Nick Carraway who arrives in New York in 1922, an era of loose morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick encounters the mysterious millionaire Gatsby and his bewitching cousin Daisy. Soon, Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super-rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. Bearing witness to this new world, Nick pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and unforgettable tragedy -- mirroring our own times and struggles.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 266
- Fresh: 128
- Rotten: 138
- Average Rating: 5.8/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: There are no two ways about it: The Great Gatsby is misconceived and misjudged, a crude burlesque on what's probably American literature's most precious jewel.
Rotten: It's stupefying, it's vulgar, it's demeaning-it's dull and there's nothing like the dullness that is trying to be a sensation.
Fresh: When you throw in the extravagant sets, costumes and visual effects, it's as if you're watching a moving painting. New York in the 1920s could not look any more beautiful.
Fresh: What's truly telling about this brash, boisterous adaptation is that the director clearly understands the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel better than most film critics.
A LAVISH BUT UNFOCUSED ADAPTATION OF A CLASSIC NOVEL
If you ever attended high school, chances are you ended up reading "The Great Gatsby" at some point during those four years, and so did I. It's one of those classic, all-American novels that continues to stand the test of time thanks to its rich characters, poignant story, and unforgettable backdrop of New York in the 1920s. It's also one of the few assigned books I read as a high school student that sincerely resonated with me. So when I heard that Baz Luhrmann ("Romeo + Juliet," "Moulin Rouge," "Australia") would be taking on the challenge of directing a big-screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's landmark tale for the first time in nearly forty years, I was actually quite excited. As a filmmaker, Luhrmann has been been known for his lavish visual style and impeccably detailed production, and seeing as how the novel takes place in an era virtually ruled by excess, he seemed like the perfect director to tackle this kind of source material. And while I can't deny that the imagery and performances in this film are simply stunning in their epic scale, it's hard to say the same about the script's lack of deep emotional resonance beneath its artificial glitz.
This tale is told by Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), a young would-be writer working through his life-changing summer in 1922 Long Island, where he's rented a small cottage directly across the way from his wealthy cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), who's married to his college pal Tom (Joel Edgerton), a brash, impulsive sportsman with a keen eye for other women. Next door to Nick's house is the giant mansion owned by reclusive millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), who throws outrageously extravagant parties for New York's celebrity class. But soon after befriending him, Nick comes to realize that Gatsby does this to catch the eye of Daisy because he's still madly in love with her after a romance they had just five years earlier. Now he wants to take her away from Tom, and he needs Nick's help.
One of the best things the film gets right, more than anything else, is the casting of its stars. DiCaprio shines as Gatsby, the charismatic yet insecure protagonist who finds it impossible to let go of the past. His presence is practically magnetic in nearly each scene as he brings his distinctive role to life through absolute believability. Daisy, like in the book itself, is much less detailed as a character since we rarely ever get to see past her passive persona, but at least Mulligan is there to provide some enjoyable charm to the shallow love interest. Edgerton is terrifically over-the-top as a brutish Tom, while Elizabeth Debicki equally stands out as the sassy, fun-loving Jordan Baker. Even Jason Clarke and Isla Fisher add some solid layers to working class couple George and Myrtle Wilson. But as for Maguire, who's left with the role of Nick the narrator as he recites famous passages from the novel in an almost nonstop fashion, it's unfortunate that this film often feels more content with using his character purely as the eyes and ears of the story rather than making him as memorable or consistently engaging as his co-stars. Even so, that's hardly the biggest of this movie's problems. For one, there's the flashy editing and constant sensory overload that dominate the first half of this entire flick. I can understand if Luhrmann wanted to capitalize on the decadence and grandiosity of the Roaring 20s, but the digitalized special effects and frequent use of green screen simply make the whole movie look awkwardly cartoonish and overly campy more than anything else, although that's not to say they can't be pretty to look at from time to time. Another issue is the musically unfocused soundtrack, which isn't necessarily bad itself, but fails to match this movie's signature era in a consistent way. The best individual song, by, far, is Lana Del Rey's haunting ballad "Young and Beautiful," which beautifully reflects the story's tone (even if it is somewhat overplayed as the main score). Still, I'd have to say my biggest disappointment with the film is its script, not because it tries to stick as closely to the source material as possible, but because it's executed in such a cluttered and unsubtle way. Luhrmann, for some reason, just puts so much emphasis on the flick's central theme of excess that he practically forgoes the nuanced spirit of the novel that made its story and all its characters so emotionally compelling to begin with.
There's a lot to remember from Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby." From the all-star cast portraying Fitzgerald's iconic characters to the incredible, often breathtaking recreations of the novel's signature settings, the film does an impressive job at bringing the world of 1920s New York to vivid life. Even the acting is terrific, with DiCaprio delivering one of his best lead performances in years. So it's a shame that this screenplay, with its overlong run time and huge adherence to style over substance, overlooks much of the poetic significance of its most memorable symbols (the flashing green light, the T.J. Eckleberg sign, etc.), as well as the emotional depth of its characters. Sure, the drama is tense and the romance is believable, but due to Luhrmann's chaotic direction, the heart of the material gets lost along the way. At the end of the day, "The Great Gatsby" is far from a masterpiece in many aspects, but at least it's a faithful tribute to the novel it's based upon, which I suppose is all a big Gatsby fan like me can ask for at this point.
Great movie, people need to adjust to the times
The latest version of the Great Gatsby is by far one of the best movies of recent. People have issues wtih taking old novels and putting a modern day twist to it. You could not make a movie today and have old music playing, dull effects, and not use our modern day technology. Leo plays the role better than anyone else can and I believe that the music they used made the movie stand out. Hip-hop today is what what Jazz was during that time, the director did a great job of combining the two. Critics need to adjust to the times or get a new job. Im tired of some of the best movies getting terrible reviews while terrible movies get great reviews.
A Bold Adaptation that Flawlessly Captures the Essence of the Novel
While most powerful works of literature are left untouched by filmmakers, namely because of the fear of disappointing the many who have enjoyed the original works, "The Great Gatsby" was fortunately done justice. I put little faith into it at first, skeptical that anyone could make the movie half as grand as the book. Yet I was shocked to discover that director Baz Luhrmann made the impossible happen: he turned a great American novel into a great American movie, with all the luxury and pizzazz you'd expect after hearing the music, watching the trailers, and reading the book. It is a movie that will stay with you and really make you think about society, capturing everything about Fitzgerald's timeless masterwork and bringing it to the big screen. Kudos to Lurhmann and Craig Pearce, who brought that novel to life by penning such an enthralling script. Long story short, this film should be nominated for a few Oscars.
The plot, in a nutshell, is told from the perspective of Nick Carraway, a bond salesman and aspiring writer, who is now in a sanatorium for depression and an alcohol addiction. When advised to write of his experiences to help overcome his troubles, he writes of his summer in New York, in which "the buildings were higher, the parties were bigger, the morals were loose and the liquor was cheaper." He visits his cousin, the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, who knew Nick from college and whose reputation consists of his athletics and extramarital affairs. During the summer Nick comes across many interesting characters, from the wild and carefree Myrtle Wilson to the passive, beautiful Jordan Baker, but none as interesting as the reclusive and mysterious Jay Gatsby. As Nick befriends Gatsby he learns about all of the man's past, including his humble beginnings to his great, secret love for Daisy. These discoveries begin to change the course of Nick's life, as he struggles to cope with just how irresponsible the world is around him.
There were many parts of this film that made it so incredible, and go above and beyond the ordinary for films of its kind. Having watched one of Baz Luhrmann's films in the past, I expected a lot of "eye candy" in the visuals department, but never expected what I saw. Every bit of the story came to life because of the setting, whether it was in the overwhelming blowout that was the party at Gatsby's mansion, the dreary sanatorium in the opening, or Nick's humble little cottage nestled in between the mansions of Long Island. The entire atmosphere of New York City in 1922 was brought front and center, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't escape from that world the entire run time. And as strange as it sounded, the modern music added a strangely appealing bonus, creating even more of a risk for an already bold adaptation of Fitzgerald's classic.
The icing on the cake for a movie on that level of brilliance was its cast. Leonardo DiCaprio, in every sense of the word, nailed the character of the enigmatic, pensive Jay Gatsby. Gatsby's major hardships of the novel, most obviously winning over Daisy's affections and less obviously overcoming his humble origins, were played to perfection by DiCaprio's rendition of the character's sly, easygoing manner. Opposite him was "the golden girl," Daisy Buchanan, played beautifully by Carey Mulligan. Mulligan portrayed Daisy just as I imagined her from the novel, as well as adding new insight into her character, one that was never fully explored in the novel. However, the most unexpected job-well-done came from Tobey Maguire, who stepped into the introverted and self-conscious role of Nick Carraway with more gusto than I ever could have imagined. In short, Maguire was incredible, a star in the making. Adding to the incredible performances was the over-the-top Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton, the fiery and passionate Myrtle Wilson, played by Isla Fisher, and the sassy, independent Jordan Baker, played by Elizabeth Debicki.
A film that seemed to have all the right ingredients for an unforgettable masterwork, "The Great Gatsby" was an incredible success, put together by years of preparation, a hardworking director, and an incredible cast that brought to life the characters that many have loved and loved to hate. Even if you already read the book in high school, the movie is well worth watching, making note of the passage of time since the '20s with its very bold styles and production, while paying homage to the original novel with its careful study of the irresponsibility in the Roaring Twenties.
- The Great Gatsby (Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film) [Deluxe Edition]
- Various Artists
- The Great Gatsby (Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film)
- Various Artists