I got home from the midnight premier of The Great Gatsby, one of the most widely anticipated films of the year and arrived conflicted. The night started off full of excitement with giddy high schoolers dressed up as flappers and eager movie-goers, myself included. Maybe my expectations were way too high, given Fitzgerald’s book is phenomenal, the movie soundtrack is phenomenal, and Leonardo Di’Caprio is always phenomenal, so naturally I expected it to be, well…nothing short of phenomenal. I would not say the film disappointed me, but there was something about it that just did not sit well.
To start off, the beginning turned wildly annoying, cluttered with unnecessary graphics and Disney style cinematography. I’m not sure why they felt lame graphics were necessary for the iconic film, but it happened. One of my amateur mistakes I admit to making early on began with comparing the new Great Gatsby to the old 1974 Great Gatsby starring legendary Robert Redford whom I have an old-man crush on. The original possessed a subtlety and let the emotions draw you in. The new Gatsby was so Baz Luhrmann, and not entirely in a good way. You know that sweet, pretty girl that just cakes on so much makeup she looks like a drag queen? This is movie is that girl. We all know and love the beautiful story, but there’s so much superflous nonsense it takes away from the emotional element. So, the graphics and over-effects irked me. The 1920s were a time when people were warming up to the idea of reckless abandonment and the loosening noose of morals, but some parts of the film were too unbelievable. I get it’s a movie, but I did not expect this much unrealistic kitsch. And let us not forget Gatsby’s grand entrance which was so cheesy I actually felt nauseous. Leo looked on point, though. Also, The love story aspect appeared neglected, or perhaps developed too quickly. I wanted to be captivated and moved by the emotional struggle that I felt in the book and old film, but that did not happen. The film was really fast paced when it did not need to be. More content, less confetti.
Now it may appear that I hated this film. Not true. I actually really liked it, but the few things I didn’t like…I really didn’t like. I appreciated the clothes and the set design. Next, the party scenes were amazing because they were so insanely overindulgent. Sensory overload. Luhrmann wanted to depict wild scenes of excess and succeeded. Aesthetically, it was breathtaking. The music, I admit, has me perplexed. On one hand, I love the current references to Jay-Z and Beyonce. I also die for Lana Del Rey‘s “Young & Beautiful”, which played throughout. However, not sure if the music fit well with the rest of the period. Bold move, and I loved when Quentin Tarantino used modern music for “Django Unchained”, but not sure if that same tact worked in this film in its entirety. I also loved that this film, in contrast to its predecessor, explained more about Gatsby’s life and truth. The acting was phenomenal by all the characters and I was extremely excited to see Indian legend Amitabh Bachan on the Hollywood screen as the shady Meyer Wolfsheim. Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carrey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan (which was an interesting choice), Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan and Isla Fisher as Myrtle. My heart for Leonardo will always go on, and today, he saved a potentially sinking ship with his Oscar-worthy performance (sans his incessant “old sport” saying).
The thing about remakes is that they are to be remade with a new and unique element to them. In this case, that fresh element could have just been Leonardo Di’Caprio and the awesome cast. I get they are trying to sensationalize an almost jaded story and tried to appeal to the youth of today with the hip-hop and dubstep references, but often times it felt disjointed. I needed more 1920s, and less Disney and it would have been perfect. I think I really want myself to love this movie, but I only just really like it. Still, I do suggest everyone go watch it and let us know your thoughts!
Rida Islam, Fashion Editor