With the Oscars now behind us, you’re probably ready for a break from movies. Too bad! If you’re like me, you felt like Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby came out eons ago. Turns out it was just last May, and the film snuck in and won in both Oscar categories in which it was nominated, Costume Design and Production Design. The movie has endured mixed reviews, perhaps even mostly negative. Personally, I have mixed but mostly positive things to say about it, so let’s get down to business.
Should I pay to see it?
If you asked a large group, you’d probably get discouraged, but I would strongly recommend it. Some people cannot stand Luhrmann’s hectic filmmaking, but I found it quite suitable for Fitzgerald’s lamentation on moral decay in the Jazz Age. The movie certainly earned its design awards, with Gatsby’s parties and the decaying city coming to life. Let it also be known that with this film and The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio got to take part in more cool fake parties than anyone else in the past year. On a more serious note, The Great American Novel critiques the greedy masculinity that plagues Gatsby and Tom Buchanan (played effectively Edgily by Joel Edgerton…pause for laughs), spinning their worlds into chaos before closing on a solemn, foreboding note. Beneath the fantastic soundtrack and at times shocking visuals, I think Luhrmann succeeded in conveying this, taking advantage of a lively and talented cast. This movie will certainly make the TV rounds at some point, but for now it’s worth paying for.
Could I watch it with a date?
The movie runs just over two hours and twenty minutes, which may not be ideal for date night, and observing the vapidity and greed of the various characters may fail in setting the right mood, and there’s always the danger of at least one of you falling madly in love with Leo. That being said, the movie does not really have any down moments, with Luhrmann accelerating until reaching a breakneck pace for the final moments of the story. Watch out if one or both of you loves the novel and will overcritique, but otherwise you should be entertained and given plenty of food for thought and discussion.
Could I watch it with my mother?
I don’t really see why not. Perhaps for some mothers the plodding 1974 Robert Redford version of Gatsby is superior (It shouldn’t be. It womps.) The ideal adaptation probably falls somewhere in between Luhrmann and the 1974 version, but I still feel last summer’s hit closer to the mark. Maybe Gatsby resonates more with people of the rapidly modernizing generations than with those of past decades, as our world becomes somewhat consumed with excesses. That’s why Luhrmann succeeds, as the story concludes not with a complete condemnation of Gatsby and Tom but instead with Tom moving away, continuing in his oppression of Daisy and firm belief in traditional wealth and power. I don’t know if you mother will like what she sees, but I think she’ll believe it.
So we beat on, posts against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past because Hollywood keeps remaking and adapting things, for they have run out of original ideas.
At least this one was very entertaining.