After seeing the latest adaptation of The Great Gatsby, I left the theatre with a mix of emotions. I felt depressed as poor Gatsby lay dead in a red pool of regret and lost hope. I also felt happy and relieved that I didn’t hate Baz Luhrmann’s creation as I had initially predicted I would when I first heard they were making such a film. I imagined it would be impossible to make a movie accurately depicting the complex characters and emotions found in such an outstanding work of literature. For the most part, however, I found things to applaud throughout the film, with only one or two small Baz kills interrupting my state of joy.
I get that Luhrmann is attempting to achieve a modern take on the novel, and therefore features some of the most recent top-selling artists like Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Andre 3000 in the soundtrack. However, I am a more traditional fan and would have loved to see recreate a more accurate representation of the 1920s, with a full-on, traditional flapper feel and jazz music. That said, I do think the hip hop music blaring through Gatsby’s infamous parties works better than I had initially assumed it would. I also love Lana Del Rey’s song ‘Young and Beautiful’ which plays throughout Daisy and the Gatsby’s romantic affair. Not only did it fit like a puzzle piece into the scene with Gatsby’s English shirt collection, but the lyrics also rather subtly posed a great question: “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” Although every viewer and reader of The Great Gatsby would love to think so, the question sparks a heated debate as to whether Gatsby is infatuated with Daisy’s wealth, youth, and beauty, or if he truly loves her on a much deeper level.
As far as characters go, I think that Leonardo DiCaprio plays an amazing Gatsby. I doubt anyone could have done it better. I also think Joel Edgerton plays the arrogant, cocky, misogynistic Tom Buchanan almost too well.
The film sticks fairly well to the plot of the novel. It leaves out only a few very small details, such as Gatsby’s father showing up for the funeral at the end. However, the film works perfectly fine without these details. The only change I am opposed to is making Nick seem crazy, retelling his story to a doctor throughout the film as he recovers from alcoholism. A pale, unshaven Nick shakily and cautiously begins to write his story, as he insists he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. This addition seemed unnecessary and unfair to poor Nick. After all, he is, according to himself, the only sane, levelheaded person in the story.
All in all, the film is much better than I expected. Yet, how could anyone presume that they could make a flawless film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece? Still, I raise my glass to Luhrmann for coming much closer than I think most ever could. Cheers to him — a very, very solid attempt, old sport.