Monday, November 4, 2013

We all delight in seeing our favorite books brought to life on the big screen.  We cringe at casting.  We scoff at release dates.  All the while, we're gearing up to see if the director's vision lives up to the world we've conceived in our own imaginations.  Sometimes it does...and sometimes it doesn't.  We could lament the movies that don't measure up, or we could return to the books for a re-read, possibly with a slightly different mind-set.  All's fair when it comes to artistic vision, right?

This week, I'm featuring the following adaptation:

Title: The Great Gatsby
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan & Tobey Maguire
Release date: May 10, 2013
Based on: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

View on IMDb

An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.

First off, don't tell my husband I watched this without him while he was out at the deer lease this weekend. ;0)  It's his favorite book and we were supposed to watch it together, but my sister came over and well, you know her obsession with Leo.  Oops.  Secondly, I had my reservations about this one, not because I didn't like Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of Romeo + Juliet, but quite the opposite.  I really loved that movie when I was a teenager, and I still find myself watching it whenever I'm flipping channels and find it showing on cable.  Also, I've never read The Great Gatsby.  It was never a requirement for the Honors or AP English classes, and with all of the other reading I had to do back then, I never fit it in.

I really wish I'd read the book before I saw the movie, though.  I thoroughly enjoyed the moral implications of this story, the focus on obsession and insanity, and I think I would have enjoyed it that much more if I'd read it first. Also, the dialogue at the beginning of the movie was quick and stunted and I never knew if the characters were participating in the same conversations because I was quite confused for a bit.  Once the pieces started to fall into place, though, I had a better grasp on the quixotic way everyone seemed to speak to one another. But now I find myself wondering if that was all Baz Luhrmann's doing or if that's how it was initially intended in the book.

I don't have the fixation with Leonardo DiCaprio that my sister does, but I don't think a more perfect Gatsby could have been cast.  Admittedly, I haven't seen the Robert Redford version, so I can't make a true declaration, but I was pretty convinced of DiCaprio as Gatsby.  (I just hope this Baz Luhrmann/Leo DiCaprio pairing doesn't become like that Tim Burton/Johnny Depp thing...there can be too much of a good thing.)  I'm not the biggest fan of Tobey Maguire after those Spiderman movies, but I actually found his performance in this movie to be quite good, as well. My dislike for Daisy's character hampered my opinion somewhat, but Carey Mulligan portrayed this spacey, lost woman quite well.

I was afraid that the soundtrack would also detract from the storyline, but I should have known better.  It's really odd how well those beats complemented the feel of this roaring '20s story, but it worked.  I'm not usually one to purchase soundtracks, but I'd definitely consider this one.

So. Good story. Great actors. Fabulous soundtrack. Beautiful choreography. Gorgeous costumes. Yep. It all amounts to one visually stunning movie that sounds as good as it looks. I hope my husband likes it as much as I did. :-P

Have you read the book?  Have you seen the movie?  How do you think this one fared as an adaptation?


  1. I've actually seen such mixed reviews on this movie and while I haven't read the book nor do I have a fixation with Leo like your sister (who does?;), you make me want to watch this one a lot now! Yay for great soundtracks as well!

  2. Saw this while on a plane. The small screen does not justify the glamour of the era, to be honest but I loved it just the same. Leo is a great actor so it's quite difficult to find any fault in that dude. :)

    Great review, Jen. Watch it again with your hubs.

  3. I thought this movie was a great adaptation of the book (which, admittedly, it's been many years since I've read). I liked Leo, but I really loved how Tobey Maguire brought Nick Carraway to life. I thought the soundtrack was perfect, the costumes were perfect, the casting was perfect...I could watch this one again and again. I thought it was really true to the F. Scott Fitzgerald spirit.


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