Friday, May 17, 2013

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Today - after a 1 year wait - I finally watched The Great Gatsby (cue: "Gatsby? What Gatsby?").  After a 5-hour intermission since le fin du film, I've decided that it satisfies my general expectations.

Firstly, the the casting was perfect. Excuse me for the following run-on sentence: Tobey Maguire was a spot-on bystander/narrator-Nick, Elizabeth Debicki (and her meter long torso) absolutely encapsulated Jordan's essence, Joel Edgerton (aka Owen Lars) and his slitted snake-eyes embodied Tom Buchanan, Isla Fisher was a classic, wild and pitiful Myrtle (I'll never watch Confessions of a Shopaholic the same way ever again), Jason Clarke was a horrifyingly terrific Wilson (kudos to the makeup artist), Carey Mulligan WAS stunning as the beautiful and foolish Daisy (she also pulled off the accent really well), and finally, Leonardo Dicaprio (or as my family likes to fondly call him: 'Leo Dicap') stole the entire show as Gatsby. Gatsby's initial proper appearance is one of the top 10 best moments of the entire film; fireworks were going off behind him, he looked dashing in his suit - Luhrmann executed it perfectly. Is 'Leonardo Dicaprio' not one of the most beautiful names of all time?

Luhrmann treated the COSTUME DESIGN of the film with the respect and prudence it deserved, so the costumes unsurprisingly turned out as one of the most satisfying aspects of the film. The set design, too, was quite spectacular - that golden harpsichord! The opening credits of the movie are just incredible (Gatsby's logo!) - trust Luhrmann to find some way to incorporate some modern and extravagant embellishment any adaptation of a classic. The trailer itself already gives us a generous dosage of the flamboyance of the jazz age.

Luhrmann certainly did everything in his power to emphasize the green light (a bit overdone, honestly), Dr. Eckleburg (chilling!! "towards death" *and we see Eckleberg*) and most of the stellar quotes (again, literally spelling them out was a tad trite), and all the actors did a swell job. All in all, I'm content with this adaptation, in terms of loyalty to the book; nonetheless, I suppose this story is one I prefer to see in print, told in Fitzgerald's masterful prose, rather than on screen. There were undeniable perfect-moments, though, including the one depicted in the still below. In 143 minutes, we are amused, dazzled and broken-hearted all at once. Try not to melt everytime Gatsby looks at Daisy.

Personally, I was not very much affected by the fact that Luhrmann decided to film The Great Gatsby in 3D, and I know that there would be an omission of certain fabulously filmed and custom-made-for-3D scenes had Luhrmann decided to stick with 2D (the film would have been a booming hit anyway).

Sadly, the soundtrack was a letdown. Too much Lana Del Rey (seriously... lana del rey + intimate Gatsby-Daisy scene = wrong) and too little jazz - classic for Baz Luhrmann to edge towards Jay-Z (well, Jay-Z's music would be the soundtrack to all of a 21st century Gatsby's parties, and plus Jay-Z himself produced the film).

The Great Gatsby is a profound tale, regardless of how it is told, and has/will touched/touch generations. We are ultimately all, to some extent, believers in the green light.