The Great Gatsby

I just saw The Great Gatsby.  I’ve heard quite a few bad things about it, though I hadn’t read any reviews – I usually don’t before I see a movie – but I wanted to see it myself before making any decisions.  First of all, let it be said that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  But then again, I tend to like Baz Luhrmann, absurdist as he may be.  His movies are visually stunning and emotionally compelling, even if they aren’t as deep as many would like them to be.  I felt this one fit right in with Romeo + Juliet & Moulin Rouge in those respects – and in a lot of ways, I felt like seeing Gatsby’s parties and the debauchery that he surrounded himself with made it all the more real and vibrant. 

I heard a lot about the soundtrack before going in, and I wasn’t really sure what I thought about the choice to use predominantly hip hip until the movie actually started.  The scene that changed my mind was the scene where Mabel and Tom drag Nick off to a party in their apartment in the city.  It’s set to a Jay Z song (I think – I can’t remember now) and I remember distinctly thinking that the debauchery being shown on the scene matched up with the live out loud attitude of hip hop as a whole. They even weave in jazz trumpet by way of a musician on the fire escape, which tied it in pretty perfectly as far as the setting was concerned.  In general, I felt the music reflected the debauchery of the setting pretty well, and they did a great job mixing it with more expected jazz themes.  So well, in fact, that I think it raised the whole movie going experience for me – and I’m generally not a soundtrack girl.  The last movie I remember actively liking the soundtrack to while watching it in theaters was The Hangover, to give you a reference point. 

The one issue that really stuck with me through the movie was Daisy.  I didn’t really like Carey Mulligan as Daisy.  Aesthetically, she’s pretty perfect, and she certainly has the sadness down – that might be why it took me so long to figure it out, because it took me at least half the movie to put in place what was bothering me about the whole thing.  Her Daisy is a people pleaser, a woman who is desperately trying to make both Jay and Tom happy and coming apart at the seams because she can’t manage it.  The Daisy I read in Fitzgerald’s novel was careless and flighty, tossing off the information that of course she used to love Tom but she’d also always loved Jay as though she was announcing she wanted another whiskey before leaving the city.  Fitzgerald makes a point of telling us at the end of his novel that both Tom and Daisy are careless and life smashers, but Luhrmann makes it a point to treat Daisy like a china doll roughly being tossed between the men in her life.  I remember her having considerably more power in the novel.

Overall, I thought it was an entertaining movie and a pretty decent adaption of one of my favorite books of all time.  Obviously, as is always the case, the book is better, but at least I wasn’t storming out in disgust. 


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