Film Review – The Great Gatsby

Or should we call it, The Almost-Great-But-Could-Have-Been-Better Gatsby.

It’s no secret that the past several attempts at bringing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel to life on the big screen haven’t exactly been up to par. Actually, some of them turned out to be complete flops, and after a while, people began to groan at the idea of another attempt at Gatsby. For some reason, though, everybody seemed quite excited for director Baz Luhrmann’s take on the classic jazz age tale. Maybe it was the scenes of outrageous and even nonsensical parties set to some modern, upbeat music that were teased in the trailers, or the idea of a more contemporary angle of a book that quite frankly gets beaten to death in high school. Or maybe it’s just that we all want to see Leonardo DiCaprio finally win an Oscar.

It’s not a bad film, really, not at all. For those who have read the book beforehand, it’s satisfying to see how closely the film stuck to the original novel, with the colorful imagery finally brought to life and even some direct quotes here and there. And for those who are just diving into the tale for the first time, it’s definitely enjoyable to spend more time getting caught up in the 20s style love story and less on analyzing how well it kept to the vintage literature.

Even so, there are still times when both parties might find themselves confused by a slight lack of continuity. The film is narrated in first-person by Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire), and most of the time, he sticks to the plot and cuts to the chase. Other times, though, the narration is a bit hard to follow and it’s easy to spend more time thinking about where everything works into the timeline rather than the event itself. The choice of music is also a little bit strange at first glance (the film features some modern hits from artists such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and will.i.am), but it ends up working for the most part when rap and hip-hop would have otherwise seemed out of place.

Without a doubt, it’s a fun movie throughout, and even a bit of a tear-jerker towards the end. The casting is altogether pretty decent, especially Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, and each performance is quite notable (though unfortunately for Leo, not necessarily Oscar-worthy).

Overall, Gatsby is certainly worth seeing. Is it movie of the year? Probably not, but it definitely doesn’t fall short on creativity, and its enticing imagery of the extravagant jazz age offers a great escape from reality.

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