The Great Gatsby (2013) [Review 58 for FQ13]

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Am I posting this out-of-turn? Yes, I suppose I am, but what’s the fun in posting a review if the movie’s long gone from the theater?

Why I Saw It: Come on… it’s only one of the most famous pieces of American literature, with the titular character portrayed by one of America’s finest actors, and his lady love is portrayed by one of the best young actresses of our time… How can a movie lover NOT want to see this film?

What Was It About?  “An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby’s nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.

Rating: 8.1 out of 10

Memorable Performances: I’m sure to remember DiCaprio’s performance as Jay Gatsby, but I wouldn’t think it will necessarily supplant some of his finer roles atop my memory of what he’s capable of doing. Tobey Maguire did a decent job, but nothing excellent as the protagonist, and as a fan of both Spider-Man and Cider House Rules, his Nick Carraway isn’t going to be anything more than potentially a #3 spot in terms of characters for him.

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Joel Edgerton did a great job with a decently complex character, and the nuances he added to his performance were great, but I’m not sure I’ll remember him better for Tom Buchanon than I will for his role in WARRIOR or potentially even Zero Dark Thirty or Kinky Boots.

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As always, a top-notch performance was provided by Carey Mulligan, but she was far better in AN EDUCATION and more memorable in DRIVE.

Potential Nominations for Film Quest ’13:  

  • Best Supporting Actress – Carey Mulligan
  • Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Best Supporting Actor – Joel Edgerton

Favorite Parts: There are quite a few things I really enjoyed about the film:

  • Its Style – Obviously the costumes were going to match the time period, as well as the cars, music, dancing and other elements. But what Baz Luhrmann did by bringing in Jay-Z as an Executive Producer was to add a cool flare to the film. I was expecting the music to include significantly more “hip hop” influence than it did, and the balance which was achieved was actually preferable to my expectations. The way the characters spoke, walked and, in some cases, simply stood there, just felt “cool”.
  • Its Grandeur – Whether you’re seeing how huge Gatsby’s mansion is, or Daisy’s for that matter, or taking the trip into the city with them to some of the locations they visit, the scale of the film just feels huge. That’s exactly the way this film about people who are living large should present itself.

The Regrettable Aspects: The film, at times, felt like it was built too much for the 3D format – in which I did not see the movie because, quite frankly, I’ve yet to have a 3D movie viewing experience that didn’t suffer because of the format. There were times when I was taken out of the experience of enjoying the film because something on the screen was so obviously meant for 3D that it felt like someone made a copy of that element and super-imposed it onto the screen. It wasn’t nearly as noticeable here as it was with the recent OZ film, but it was certainly there.

Also, for a movie with Isla Fisher in it, there wasn’t enough Isla Fisher in it… though that’s the case with a lot of good movies with Isla Fisher in them.

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Would I watch it again? I won’t be buying it on DVD, and I would likely skip over it if I saw it listed in the cable guide on a night where there might be something else worth watching. If someone else rented it and showed up to my house with it, I would probably recommend doing something else instead… but it was good enough to sit through again. I probably wouldn’t let that happen more than once, though.

To Whom Would I Recommend It?  Anyone who considers themselves a film lover needs to see this, and anyone who likes a good story should take in a viewing, as well. It also provides a decent look back at an interesting time in American history, so that’s another reason why I’d recommend it, but I’m thinking that anyone who’s potentially THAT interested in history would have already read the book and formed an opinion on it… but I’d still give it the recommendation.

Other Recommendations:

- THE GREAT GATSBY - You had to know that was coming, right? My high school English teacher wouldn’t be pleased if I didn’t recommend that you watch the Robert Redford version. And by some accounts, that’s the better version anyway. You should give it the opportunity to convince you as such.

- THE AVIATOR - There are tons of parallels that can be drawn between these two DiCaprio-lead vehicles. In fact, one might say that the two characters he portrays differ, primarily, due to what his character becomes fascinated/obsessed with.

- Romeo + Juliet - Yet another Leonardo DiCaprio film, but the reason I have included this is because it’s another of Baz Luhrmann’s films… and quite possibly his best. Another example of how he takes literature and translates it into something that would resonate with modern movie-goers.

- Moulin Rouge! (their exclamation point, not mine) – Another Baz Luhrmann flick, and certainly worth watching… though not as good as R+J as mentioned above. Lots of singing, if that’s your cup of tea.

If you’ve got recommendations for alternatives to THE GREAT GATSBY, or for other similar films, let me know!

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5 responses to “The Great Gatsby (2013) [Review 58 for FQ13]

    • I’ve always thought the plot is interesting, but there’s something about the film that just left it feeling like a shell of what it could’ve been… which is weird to say when it clearly has good style and strong performances.

  1. Pingback: Seven Psychopaths – Two Nearly Coherent, Awkwardly Meshed Stories [FQ13 #57] | Guys Film Quest·

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