The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels of all time. I loved the Robert Redford version of the film so I knew I had watch Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby Maguire, and Carey Mulligan.
What I loved:
- I loved that Luhrmann emphasizes the relationship between Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) and Nick Carraway (Maguire). Carraway loves Gatsby more than Daisy does (it’s a subtlety in the novel) and I love that Luhrmann emphasizes it a lot more in the film. I liked Toby Maguire as Nick Carraway for this reason.
- I loved Leo’s rendering of Jay Gatsby. He spends his whole life trying to move up social classes for himself and for Daisy. He reeks of desperation masked by a cool confidence. Leo did a superb job.
- I loved the Baz Luhrmann signature visuals. The party scenes really highlight the extreme flamboyancy and excess of the 1920s. The out-of-control partying really highlights how out of control Gatsby really is.
What I didn’t love:
- I felt like Myrtle’s story line wasn’t used enough. Those in the audience who haven’t read the book might not get how significant it is for her husband to incessantly ask Tom when he’s going to sell the car. Because of this, the way she dies is less meaningful.
- I’m not sold on the idea that Nick is in an asylum. It’s an easy way for him to tell his story but I’m not sure it was necessary. Although, it does emphasize he and Gatsby’s relationship that much more. He loved Gatsby so much that his death sent him to an asylum. I understand it, but I’m not sold on it either.
- The film lagged in the middle. For a movie with SO much to look at and experience, Gatsby’s time with Daisy is the part of the movie that is borderline boring.
- My last point brings me to Daisy. I’m usually very sympathetic toward her in the book so it surprised me to find myself intensely disliking her while watching the movie. I found her petty and childish instead of desperate and afraid. Carey Mulligan just didn’t give Daisy enough of the whimsy that masks her desperation. In fact, she didn’t seem desperate at all.
In the end, The Great Gatsby is about Gatsby and Nick and not Gatsby and Daisy. It doesn’t deviate from the book, it just emphasizes events in a different way.
Book vs. Movie
Book wins, but only because I didn’t like Daisy’s portrayal in the movie.
© 2014, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.