The Great Gatsby (2013)

PG-13   |    |  Drama, Romance


The Great Gatsby (2013) Poster

A writer and wall street trader, Nick, finds himself drawn to the past and lifestyle of his millionaire neighbor, Jay Gatsby.

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7.3/10
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  • Baz Luhrmann in The Great Gatsby (2013)
  • Baz Luhrmann in The Great Gatsby (2013)
  • Baz Luhrmann in The Great Gatsby (2013)
  • The Great Gatsby (2013)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in The Great Gatsby (2013)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby (2013)

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10 May 2013 | prameetkumar
6
| "I wasn't actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity."
I watched this film with a sort of tender curiosity.

It was deliciously excessive and exaggerated, as expected from a Baz Luhrmann production. Leonardo DiCaprio made Gatsby his own ("Old spor'!") while retaining a feeling of familiarity. The screenplay was a faithful adaptation and even helped me understand some of the novel's themes more clearly. And though you'd think hearing dubstep during the Jazz Age would be jarring, the soundtrack worked very well.

But I couldn't love it. And it's (mostly) Tobey Maguire's fault.

Gatsby loomed so large in the original story that it's not hard to forget all about Nick. But it can be argued, and often is, that it was Nick and not Gatsby who was the protagonist of the novel. Fitgerald's story, told from Nick's first-person point of view, was only as good as Nick's narration; Gatsby was only so great because Nick viewed him that way.

Unfortunately, Maguire fell completely flat in his role as narrative guide. There was always so much else going on and so much of Luhrmann's dreamscape to absorb that Maguire seemed to get lost in it all. And — with him — so did the viewer. Without a strong presence from Maguire, Nick was relegated from having a role as interpreter of events to being just another character (and a rather unimportant one at that).

Luhrmann tried to maintain Nick's narrative frame by having him tell the story — first as a patient speaking to his doctor at a sanitarium, then as a writer trying to explain his grief through prose. But those scenes came across (at best) as heavy-handed expository or (at worst) as Maguire's uninspired take on an abridged audiobook version of "The Great Gatsby."

I wanted to love this film. I really did. It had so many wonderful qualities. But with no Nick (only a Tobey) to help make sense of the people and events, "angry, and half in love with {it}, and tremendously sorry, I turned away."

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