Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Drop It Like F. Scott : I Loved the Gatsby Movie

Gatsby was marvelous. Yes, there are what could be considered “spoilers” for the movie below, but if you’ve read the book, nothing major. It’s kind of like going into Titanic—you know how it is going to end but you want to experience the narrative.

Oh, and we didn’t see it in 3D by the way. I’ll say that upfront.
I don’t believe in 3D.  It cheapens movies and tries to make them thrilling visually instead of giving them a good plot.  They make me seasick and just annoy me in general.

As a double major in English (lit) and history, who’s favorite novel is The Great Gatsby, I can say that with confidence.  I’m not some bimbo going into the theater with no background, just going gaga over Leo, and smacking on my gum asking everyone “but who’s she?? I don’t get it.”
I know quite a few people that didn’t enjoy it, but that is because they didn’t know what was coming.

Being the overeager nerd that I am, I prepared myself, so I wasn’t thrown for a loop when the movie starts in frozen Minnesota with a morbidly alcoholic Nick Carraway.  If I hadn’t have known that was coming, I would have been the annoying freak screeching “that wasn’t in the booooook!!!!”
And the people I know that haven’t enjoyed the film didn’t know that the director was taking a few liberties with the story and were outraged by it.  But I was able to reconcile the changes that were made before even seeing the movie and I actually thought they added something to the story.
The main liberty being of course that they added the framing device of Nick being in a sanatorium in the wake of Gatsby’s death for alcoholism, anxiety, depression, etc.

This makes sense.  Because the novel is narrated by Nick a year or two after the summer it is set in, when he is trying to reconcile what has happened.  And you wonder why someone would sit down and write about this out of the blue when it is a difficult subject to handle.  In the movie it acts as a cathartic therapy for Nick.  And the way they emphasize the act of storytelling and writing is a fun addition to the film.
The first 10 minutes of the movie I did not like.  It is too fast and close and in your face, but that is as he is trying to recall the jumble of memories.  Once he sits down to write them out, it slows down and happens in an organized way (which is truly how the mind seems to work, so this is believable).
And Fitzgerald ended up in a sanatorium for the same reason, really. So considering Gatsby is semi-autobiographical, this isn’t entirely out there.
And they did a fun little homage—Fitzgerald’s agent was named Perkins and was very supportive of him finishing writing The Great Gatsby, and in the movie it is called “Perkins Sanatorium.”

About the acting:
Leonardo DiCaprio IS Gatsby. 
He played that role like nobody’s business and he is the only Gatsby that I have really and truly loved (besides the novel’s character) and still felt torn about, much as Nick does. 
He captured the desperation of Gatsby and also his mysterious background and the rage lingering under the surface.  He can be a cold-blooded con man to get what he wants (Daisy).

I especially loved the rainy reunion scene when he meets Daisy again at Nick’s cottage and he is consumed with anxiety.  It was a little funny and ridiculous, which is how it is in the book, and I adored when he came in from outside soaking wet—that look on his face! I just wanted to hug him.
I felt a lot of sympathy for the way Leo portrayed him, and since that is how I feel about the novel’s character, I knew that he played the role well.
Also, there is a scene outside of Nick’s place when he agrees to do the favor for Gatsby and Gatsby immediately tries to find a way to repay him.  Nick is earnest in that he needs no compensation and it is a favor.  Leo really was able to portray the fact that Gatsby isn’t used to people doing anything for him without receiving something in return.  I loved that.
Anyhow, Leo IS INTENSE.

I also loved his chemistry with Daisy and the push and pull between then.
Carey Mulligan was stunning and summed up exactly who Daisy is, which has not been done on film before. I have despised all previous depictions of Daisy on film (especially Mia Farrow’s simpering annoying ninny, quel rat!) but I enjoyed watching Carey.
And the best part of her depiction?  She wholly captured the voice of Daisy Buchanan being full of money.  They didn’t even use that line from the book in the movie, and didn’t need to, because she made it clear and unnecessary to state.  She had the graceful fluttering manner and beguiling voice and LORD JESUS THAT JEWELRY.  Her costumes were spot on as well. 
The no-name actress playing Jordan quite stole the show.  She was Jordan to a T and very fun to watch.
And although I’m not Tobey Maguire fan, he did well.  He was a good Nick, and I particularly liked when he freaks out near the end.  So ok Tobey, I don’t quite hate you any more.
Joel Edgerton was an awesomely burly Tom Buchanan too!! I was wary of him at first, but he embodied the brute that Daisy is chained to.

Isla Fisher as Myrtle—wow.  She wasn’t in the movie much at all, but what I saw of her I liked.  Her accent and clothing was unexpected, but when I thought about it, it made perfect sense.
And I liked the guy that played George Wilson too.  Poor man.
The only role I’m not too sure of is the guy that played Meyer Wolfsheim.

Other aspects I loved in particular:
The remakes of modern songs.
Especially the Foxtrot version of Lana Del Rey.  Brilliance.

The sweaty alcohol-infused romp at Myrtle’s apartment in the city.  The book is a little vague on this but it’s clear how raunchy this scene really is and I think they did splendidly. 
Wooooooh debauchery!
I especially liked the idea of within/without first expounded on here, and then later on in the film—
of being included, but also observing and not feeling like you are 100% part of something.

The scene when Nick first visits the Buchanan’s with the fluttering white curtains in the sitting room as Jordan and Daisy recline. Exactly how I pictured it in the book!

Klipspringer-- they have a pair of tennis shoes on top of the piano while he is playing, a fun little reference to the novel (when he calls Gatsby's asking if he can have the shoes back).  Interesting fact-- a klipspringer is a type of small African antelope!

The art deco motifs.

The colors of the film.  Especially the rainy scene at Nick’s, which in certain moments had the same tone as Rear Window.

And surprisingly I liked how they introduced the final line of the novel.

All in all, this is a crackerjack wonderland of a movie, some real dazzling eye candy, and I feel that with the modern interpretation and all, it best captured the true story of Gatsby.

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