My thoughts on The Great Gatsby

By on May 31, 2013


By: Elodie Mertz

If you can’t judge a book by its cover, can you do it by its movie? I wouldn’t dare to do so. I’d rather be curious to read F. Fitzerald’s novel to make my own opinion about Gatsby’s original story; because if I just rely on Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation, The Great Gatsby is a big disappointment. It seems to confirm that beauty and deepness are always apart.

A month or so ago, I got pretty excited by the trailer: an adaptation of a novel with a great aura and taking place in this fascinating time of the Golden Twenties when splendour and frenzy used to rule the (wealthy) world, an interesting casting and a photography that really got me with its visual luxury. I wasn’t expecting too much, just what I had been promised. It happened to be some ephemeral sparkle over my eyes.

To be honest, I really enjoyed the first half hour, but as time went on I got bored watching rich people make a fuss about empty feelings. Daisy and her husband are indeed despicable people who have distorted family values and who are subverted by money and hypocrisy.

gatsby_dicaprio_298_400But I didn’t feel moved either by Gatsby. He’s someone who once fell in love with an idea of himself and his life and then foolishly entrusted it to (his love for) a spoiled little girl who never reached maturity.

Tobey Maguire, the story’s narrator (and eternal subscriber to corruptible leading male roles) seemed to be there only to indicate to the spectator how he/she should feel, and to add some humanity to this whole soulless mess.

Regarding the acting I’d say everyone played well. As for Leonardo DiCaprio I am torn; this actor really has terrific charisma but that’s precisely a double-edged gift, because in the end you end up with DiCaprio’s charisma, not Gatsby’s.

Giving it some second thought, I understand the tragedy of the self-made man who is Gatsby – starting and ending with his dreams – his thirst for absolute, the folly and the hope for some bygone past, his unreasonable and imaginary love. The last quote of the movie delivers this message very well – So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past; the movie doesn’t. In a sense this latter is a good sample of those years spirit: beautiful, corrupted and empty.

The soundtrack has been slandered by many who don’t see the point of sticking contemporary music on a story happening in the past. Personally, I didn’t see any gap. It establishes a link between that time and ours. Actually the soundtrack is cleverly chosen – I even got sentimental once in a while during the movie and it was only because of the music.

If you stick to the visual, you have to acknowledge it’s polished – and the decorum and the costumes play a big part in that success. The outfits make you want to dress like that again – for men and women – to cut your hair shorter, and to put on some feathers and pearls necklace’s. Every apparition of the actors, especially the actresses, is a surprise: fur, jewellery, dresses, headbands and skull-caps, everything is there. I also liked the old-fashioned swimsuits (especially on DiCaprio!).

In one word, if you’re going to watch The Great Gatsby, don’t expect great literature on screen, instead it is made as being a sad Hollywood love story with fashion.

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