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Wednesday 31 July 2013

VIEWED: The Great Gatsby

My trailer review of The Great Gatsby said:

"My mother was visiting from Toronto a few weeks ago and told me she was bored.  I told her to go see a movie.  She went to see The Great Gatsby.  When she returned I asked her what she thought of it.  She told me that she was still bored."

The wife and I argued over which film to see.  Again, I wanted to see Pacific Rim and this time she wanted to see The Great Gatsby.  She won again. I will see Pacific Rim one day - likely alone.

I can understand why my mom thought it was boring.  It's difficult to take a novel like The Great Gatsby, with all the depth in the shallowness and carelessness of the characters and make it exciting on film.

The Robert Redford depiction of Gatsby in the 1974 version shows a Gatsby that is in complete control of his emotions as if every word and action are calculated.  This is juxtaposed with a child-like sensitivity that we catch glimpses of.  Once Daisy enters the room, though, he becomes the love struck young man whose hope for a future with Daisy never waivers.

Leonardo DiCaprio's Gatsby was too emotional.  We catch brief glimpses of the cool Gatsby at his parties but for most of the film he is like a little boy fixated on acquiring a toy and nothing can dissuade him from doing so.  It made it difficult to believe that in a five year period he went from being a penniless soldier to a gangster millionaire.

It's clear, however, that both capture the essence of clinging to an unrealistic and unrealized dream.

Don't get me wrong. I like DiCaprio.  I think he's a tremendous talent and he looked the Gatsby part. I just don't think he captured the essence of Gatsby.

While Joel Edgerton was a standout as Tom Buchanan, Carey Mulligan and Elizabeth Debicki, Daisy and Jordan Baker respectively, both missed the mark. The characters are supposed to be shallow and empty, while every action shows carelessness and selfishness - Daisy, even in love, can't fully commit to anyone but herself.  But while trying to play shallow, Daisy and Jordan were simply, empty.

So, while I didn't mind seeing another attempt at making one of my all time favourite novels, it was disappointing that the film could not capture the tragedy of this story.  A tragedy that, on film, is only spoken and not felt.

1 comment:

  1. Leonardo Dicaprio plays a shallow, egotistical narcissist? So this is a documentary...