Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
The Great Gatsby is a novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that takes place in 1922, during the Roaring Twenties.
This is the sixth time this novel has been made into a film.
wealth and excess
sin and the Bible
How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer
|Featuring:||Leonardo DiCaprio … Jay Gatsby
Isla Fisher … Myrtle Wilson
Carey Mulligan … Daisy Buchanan
Joel Edgerton … Tom Buchanan
Jason Clarke … George Wilson
Tobey Maguire … Nick Carraway
Adelaide Clemens … Catherine
Callan McAuliffe … Young Jay Gatsby
Gemma Ward … Languid Girl
Elizabeth Debicki … Jordan Baker
Amitabh Bachchan … Meyer Wolfsheim
|Director:||Baz Luhrmann—“Moulin Rouge!”, “Australia,” “Strictly Ballroom”|
Red Wagon Productions
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
The year is 1929. The story begins at a psychiatric ward with our storyteller, Nick Carraway, narrating his experiences and memories concerning his time spent in New York City during the “Roaring Twenties,” particularly his time spent with the mysterious Jay Gatsby…
Flashback to the year 1922—we hear Nick speak about his time before meeting Jay Gatsby. We learn about Nick’s move from the Midwest to New York City to work on Wall Street. He speaks of his new home and how he lived next door to Gatsby, a man who would throw the most extravagant parties, a man considered wealthy beyond comparison, yet who would always keep himself hidden from society, even from his own party guests. Nick’s curiosity about Jay is soon satisfied, as he receives an invitation from Gatsby himself to come to one of his extravagant parties, where he meets Gatsby for the very first time. The two become good friends, over time, but questions still lurk in Nick’s mind, “Who is Gatsby? What is he hiding?” And that, my friends, serves as the primary drive of this film, as we learn about the mystery of the Great Gatsby.
“The Great Gatsby” is based on the literary classic of the same name written by Scott Fitzgerald. The book, itself, is considered a timeless classic by avid readers. It is little surprise that several adaptations, film and even stage adaptations, of this classic have been made.
I say this so that the viewer understands this version of “The Great Gatsby” is one of many, and, as such, must be viewed as a film entirely on its own and should not be compared to other versions that have been made over the vast years.
I honestly have never read the book, but was still intrigued by the movie. As such, I “Googled” the book and found a synopsis of The Great Gatsby, so that I could understand the film a little better when I went in.
Critics have not spoken highly of this film, criticizing that, it was a poor adaptation of a beloved classic. I disagree, mainly because I had never read the book. However, there are things, coming from a reviewer with little knowledge of the actual book, that I enjoyed and also elements that I disliked. As such, I will break down my thoughts.
Things I didn’t like about “The Great Gatsby” (2013):
The pace of the film—I considered it inconsistent from time to time. In the beginning, some of the scenes literally race across the screen so quickly (e.g. characters talking quickly, flashbacks not being given enough time, etc.) that by the time I looked up from note taking, I was afraid I had missed something. Later, however, to my relief, the story slowed itself down to a gradual pace, so that I could stay interested.
The music—During Gatsby’s parties, I noticed music of today (e.g. Pop and the like) were thrown in while people in the scene are dancing (sometimes the people would be dancing to something else). As a musician, and a little bit of a United States history fan, myself, I had to ask why the director chose to do this. Was it to give this version of the film a more “modern flare?” For me, it didn’t fit the story or the time period in which the story took place.
There are the things I liked about this film:
The performances—The right actors were chosen for the right parts. Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor who studies a character, digs deep, and presents his character well and did so with Jay Gatsby. The only problem with him that I had was his New York accent. Earlier, I thought his accent was annoying, but later I understood that his accent was necessary to understanding him. I also would like to commend Tobey Maguire. His character is relatively silent during the flashback, and yet, I was still able to learn things about him. Carey Mulligan and Tom Buchanan also put in pretty decent performances.
The scenery—The sets are a spectacle to behold. From the fine décor inside and outside Gatsby’s mansion, to the beauty of the Hudson River, I couldn’t help but appreciate the time spent to make the places look authentic.
Violence: Moderate to heavy. In the beginning we see Tom slap one of the characters, Myrtle, across the face (so hard, in fact, we see her body fly into the air and onto the table). After one of Jay’s parties, a guest is taken out to the front of the house and beaten. There’s one scene in which Jay loses his temper and nearly attacks Tom (stopping himself, however), breaking glass as he turns around to attack. ***SPOILER*** Toward the end of the film, Myrtle is seen being verbally and physically attacked by her husband (who’s in a jealous rage), runs into the road, where she is hit by Jay’s oncoming car and killed on impact. We later see her corpse, once the police have arrived. A main character is shot, and we see blood in the pool as well as the body; the killer also commits suicide afterward. ***END SPOILER***
Profanity: Moderate: I counted four instances where God’s name is taken in vain (twice in the form of “G*d-d**n”) (4 d*mns total), “for Chr*st’s sakes,” “My G*d,” OMG, “h*ll” (2), S.O.B. Song lyrics include an f-word, and some other vulgarities. Other questionable language includes Myrtle making a comment to Tom, after he slaps her buttocks, saying, “I’m not one of those models.” A comment is also made that Jay thinks of himself as the “Son of God.” Tom also mentions that Nick, after entering a room with women, should learn to “play ball with the girls and not sit on the sidelines.”
Sex/Nudity—between Moderate and heavy. While there are no prolonged sexual scenes, there is passionate kissing exchanged between Daisy and Jay, and there is a scene where they are seen in bed later (assumedly after having sexual intercourse). There’s a scene where Nick can hear moans and thudding coming from the floor above him. Nick kisses Catherine in one scene. Several women are seen in inappropriate outfits, some showing moderate amounts of cleavage and one woman wears a revealing outfit showing a lot of skin underneath.
Other Content for Concern: For those who are familiar with the book, there are multiple party scenes. In many of these scenes the characters are either drinking or have become drunk. There are also a few characters who are seen smoking cigars and cigarettes. Tom is mentioned to be cheating on Daisy. Gatsby is a man who is mentioned to be working in a dangerous organization called the Wolfsheim.
There is a central theme that surrounds “The Great Gatsby.” Money and possessions cannot buy everything, especially the true love of someone. Jay Gatsby had all this wealth, power, popularity and threw these parties to draw Daisy back to him so that they could be together. He believed he could buy Daisy’s love, after such a long absence, and refused to give up until they were together. Money and Earthly pleasures are not the essential focus of the Christian life. We cannot buy God’s love for us. There is no price. He loves us unconditionally and warns us to not fall in love with the world. There is no greater love than God’s love, and the best part is that His love is free. It can never be bought.
During the closing credits, some people clapped in appreciation and enjoyment of “The Great Gatsby.” While I was walking out though, I couldn’t help but hear two members talking about the film and one mentioning that the film was awful. As for me? When the film finished, I sat there for about two minutes, trying to make up my mind. It wasn’t as simple as whether or not I liked it, because, at the moment, I honestly didn’t know. Looking back at it now though? I thought it was pretty well done. Parts of the film worked and other parts didn’t.
I don’t really recommend “The Great Gatsby,” unless you have read and enjoyed the book. This is not a movie for children by any means, due to the offensive content mentioned. My final thought—save your money and wait for it to come out at your local rental box.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.