Gatsby turns out to be far from “Great”
A book to film transition is hard. That much is fact. But a book that is such a large part of our culture, such as The Great Gatsby and it being a reading requirement of almost every high school in America, is a Herculean task that few would even attempt. I know that you are going to say, “This book has been adapted 6 times”. And you would be right. But for a book that has sold millions and millions of copies and has been read by every generation for almost 90 years, 6 screen adaptations is not all that much. So, the real question is “Did this director get it right”?
Storyline: Nick Carraway (Maguire) is a simple Midwesterner that comes to the ever bustling New York City. He is drawn in to the world of glitz, loud music, fast cars, bootleg whiskey, and money. Nothing embodies those qualities more than Jay Gatsby. Nick , who finds himself living next door to Gatsby, begins to become intertwined with Gatsby’s personal life in a way that not only changes Nick’s outlook on what he thought he wanted, but also exposes holes in Gatsby’s story that will change the lives of all involved forever.
So, again the question must be asked. Did the director get it right? Not really. At least not as a whole. The movie was absolutely stunning. It is probably one of the most visually impressive films I have seen in a long time. I was not surprised by this. You take the director of Moulin Rouge (2001) and give him such an ostentatious story to play with and you KNOW that the end result is going to be beautiful and excessive. So that is not where the movie fails.
The movie fails because it relies solely on the “WOW” of the visuals to carry the film. The acting is not necessarily inspired, the dialog seems forced at times, and the editing is some of the worst that I have seen in a while. There are full scenes where the words coming out of someone’s mouth doesn’t match the movement of their mouth. That, to me, is extremely distracting. Not only does it fail in a lot of ways, but it is so long! It clocks in at around 2.5 hours. You can just about read the book in the time that it takes you to watch the movie.
Worth the admission? No. Sorry folks, but I can’t recommend a movie that only wins on one front. This movie could have been exceptional, but the acting and dialog just doesn’t match the extravagant sets and costumes. And when the thrill of seeing pretty cars and big houses disappears, this movie has little to fall back on.
I will say that the soundtrack was actually really good. Congrats to whoever decided to have Jay-Z “curate” the music. Genius move!