Top positive review
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A colourful adaptation that remains faithful to the original novel
on 27 June 2014
I initially didn't want to see this film. As someone who formerly disliked a lot of Baz Luhrmann's filmography with the exception of Romeo and Juliet, I thought that him adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel would be a cataclysmic failure. It was only after rewatching Moulin Rouge recently that I changed my mind about watching this film. Moulin Rouge recently became one of my new favourite films and I was interested in indulging myself in watching The Great Gatsby. This film, whilst not great, does remain an ambitious and intriguing adaptation of the book with Luhrmann's own style integrated into the story. Despite the mixed reception this film got, it has been popular with audiences and one of the most underrated films of last year.
One of the best aspects of The Great Gatsby is the casting. Pretty much every actor equips themselves well into their roles and they all suit their characters. Leonardo DiCaprio is perfect as Gatsby, completely capturing his suaveness and charm as well as displaying his insecurities, particularly when discussing his past or when pursuing Daisy. Carey Mulligan does great work as Daisy and conveys the character's selfishness well. Joel Edgerton is great as the imposing and unrestrained Tom. Tobey Maguire is probably the weak spot but even his role as Nick is impressive and plays the role of observer very well in the story. Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke also make the most out of their smaller roles.
One of the central criticisms of the film is Luhrmann's use of modern day pop and RNB songs in a film taking place in the 20s. Whilst employing the use of jazz music in some scenes as well as Bach, he also uses hip hop tunes for some of the party scenes as well as songs from Lana Del Rey, Beyonce and the Black Eyed Peas. The soundtrack is questionable at first but as the film progresses, you get used to it and some songs do blend well with the scenes they play over. 'Young and Beautiful' by Lana Del Rey is used well in a montage scene between Gatsby and Daisy and Jack White's cover of 'Love is Blindness' by U2 also works well in the car accident scene. Some may be put off by the soundtrack if they want a more accurate re-enactment of 20s New York but it works in keeping with Luhrmann's style of the film. Another film that employed the use of modern day soundtracks in an old setting was Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained which received more positive recognition.
The only problems I have with The Great Gatsby are mainly that at times Luhrmann's style does tend to overrun the integrity of the novel. Whilst Luhrmann is a quality filmmaker, he does have the tendency to go style over substance on many of his projects particularly Australia. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed his Romeo and Juliet adaptation, it did feel a lot like a music video at times and Great Gatsby also has that feeling. It's not a major problem because the film does retain the original ethos of Fitzgerald's book but it keeps it from being completely satisfying.
The Great Gatsby is a very underrated adaptation of the book and worth checking out if you've read the book or if you're a fan of Luhrmann's work. The cast are terrific, the style of the film works great alongside the story and the film is also stunning to look at. Luhrmann really did a terrific job replicating 20s New York and it works greatly. Whilst not flawless, I still really enjoyed it and it should be admired for its ambition. 8/10