Monday, May 27, 2013
The Great Gatsby
While none of you will be surprised to hear this, I have never read The Great Gatsby... I will say, however, that I loved Tom Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris. That does not qualify me to speak on Fitzgerald at all, and, aside from watching that film, I have very little experience with Fitzgerald, his work, or the story of Gatsby. Luckily for you, that means that I can give you an honest opinion of how the movie was done, without worrying about the book. I don't know about you, but I get sick of people using books as an excuse for a famous book-based film's success or failure. For instance, many people pick apart the big changes that I unfortunately know exist in the various Nicholas Sparks-based films (per my girlfriend), and they love to blame this change on the filmmakers. They can't look at the film without considering the book. However, there are many films that people do not even know came from books, yet they give the filmmakers a hard time for the story (a story that they did not even create!). The third act of last year's Silver Linings Playbook has been greatly criticized, but the book dictates how the film ends. In this case, they refuse to look at the book, and, instead, give David O. Russell a hard time! Excuse my rant, but I hope some of that made a little sense... I thought Gatsby was going to be really cool and interesting, especially with the artsy touch that was added, so I was excited to get to the theater...
The first half of Gatsby was very interesting and intriguing. I really loved the setting in which Tobey Maguire's Nick Carraway was placed, and I could really see myself being in the exact situation (had I lived in the 1920s). His story was very interesting, and I wanted to know the outcome. However, there were times when the film shifted too far from Carraway and gave too much focus to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). If the story would have been more about Carraway's struggles in New York and less about Gatsby's struggles to find love, I would have enjoyed it much, much more. As the story went on, the entire theater sat and waited for the twists and turns to come along... And then we sat and waited... And then we sat and waited some more... Some people sat and waited in the bathroom (old viewers/long run-time)... Then I gave up hope, and just accepted that this film would leave me unsatisfied.
There were many characters that I had mixed emotions about. Most of the characters I somewhat enjoyed, but I wished that their stories had been more dramatic and maybe a little more consistent. In the first hour of the film, I thought Carey Mulligan's Daisy was going to be one of the best characters I had seen in a long time. Mulligan was really in touch with the character, at first, but, as the story moved along, I didn't much care for her anymore. Similarly, my opinions wavered on DiCaprio's Gatsby, who I couldn't decide whether to like or hate. It was quite a roller coaster of a film but not in a good way.
Honestly, I do not care for Joel Edgerton at all, and I think that is probably the only reason that I did not care for his character, Tom Buchanan. Regardless, I didn't like him. Also, as far as the story goes, I did not like how insignificantly significant Amitabh Bachchan's Meyer Wolfsheim turned out to be. The character barely had two lines, but they just kept on and on talking about him throughout the film.
Tobey Maguire's Nick Carraway was by far my favorite character in the whole film, and, if the story had truly focused on Carraway, rather than Gatsby, I would have enjoyed it so much more. Maybe Tobey Maguire isn't so bad after all.
The Great Gatsby suffered from a less than fulfilling storyline and an extremely bold and unnecessary artsy focus. The trailer sold the film as a twisty thrill ride, with shocking moments and deep characters. Unfortunately, the film fell short of that thrill ride, because there really was not huge twist ever, which was quite disappointing. Also, the visual extremities were completely unnecessary. If this story would have been told in a more simple manner, I probably wouldn't have expected so many big twists and turns, allowing me to really appreciate the story line. Was I intrigued the whole time? Pretty much... But, I was never satisfied with what I found on the other side of my intrigue. I was hoping that the film would inspire me to read the book, but I doubt that will ever happen now... Oh, well... I give The Great Gatsby 2.45 out of 5 stars.