Baz Luhrmann’s take on Romeo and Juliet came out when I was in high school, junior year in fact. And I absolutely fell in love with that movie, the look, the style, the music…Claire Danes…everything about it, I ate it up. Saw the movie like three times in theaters, and I eagerly awaited anything else from him.
In 2001, Moulin Rouge came out, missed seeing it in theaters, mainly because it was a musical and I’ve never been the biggest fan of them, but I saw it on dvd, and also fell in love with the spectacle, the music, everything. Really wished I’d seen it in theaters to get the full spectrum of the art of that film. Flashforward a few years to now, I completely passed on ‘Australia’, didn’t really grab me from the previews. So, cut til now, to Baz Luhrmann’s take on from what people tell me is a high school reading list staple (not at Monmouth Regional it wasn’t, so I’ve never read the book) so just going solely on my cinematic experience.
So, since (most) everybody’s read the book, not going to bore you with a recounting of the plot, so just moving on to the critique. First off, the visuals are just spectacular, 1920’s era New York comes to life vividly, and you really feel the partying and the excesses come to life. The music, anachronistic as ever, still good and not very distracting, except for Jay Z’s ‘H.O.V.A.’, in one scene, kind of threw me out of the movie for a second.
Now on to the acting, Leonardo DiCaprio is brilliant as the charismatic and hopeful Jay Gatsby, he really sold it for me. And Carey Mulligan was also excellent as the conflicted Daisy, as she’s torn between her lost love Gatsby and her kinda racist, cheating, mostly a dick husband played by Joel Edgerton from the movie Warrior. Tobey Maguire to me felt weak as the narrator character Nick Carraway. Tobey Maguire, whom I loved in Pleasantville, liked in the first two Spider Man movies, and laughed at unintentionally in Brothers seems to only know how to act in that whiney, blah, style that I suppose fit the character, but is still the weakest part of the whole picture.
I also felt the bookend sequences in the asylum were unnecessary, but I liked in the same sense how it tied the novel itself to the story, the visuals of the letters, and the occasional quotes from the book shown onscreen were a nice bit of visual wordplay, that I liked it.
So, all in all it’s a great movie, to be experienced on the big screen, Highly recommend checking this movie out, it’s a great movie of what’s been called ‘The’ Great American Novel. Til next time, be sure to keep it Reel.