This review is for people who have read the book and either don’t mind knowing what the movie has done, or have seen the movie. Okay? Okay.
My sister and I went to see The Great Gatsby last Saturday. I am an English major, and have read the book twice. She isn’t much of a reader (although she’s been reading more lately; yay!) and hasn’t read it yet. We both really enjoyed the movie. I know there are a lot of people who just thought it was all right, or even completely hated, but I am not one of those people.
And so, here are ten things I loved about this movie:
(So I guess it’s not actually a review. It’s a list.)
- My absolute favorite thing about the movie is how it de-romanticizes Gatsby’s love for Daisy. One of the professional reviewers said that Gatsby and Daisy don’t seem like star-crossed lovers, but like a man with an unhealthy obsession with a “bauble of a woman” (or something like that). And that’s the point. It is not a love story. The scene in New York where Gatsby flips out on Tom is an example. Even before, we see Daisy sitting there, looking a bit lost, while the men argue over who she actually loves. And then he loses his temper. That particular act is not in the book, but it does help to emphasize that, either path she chooses, neither is going to grant her freedom.
- Okay, this I didn’t necessarily love, but I did like a lot and I think I got it: the modern music. That was the only thing I was really skeptical about when I started, but I thought it really worked, and here’s why: I didn’t see this as a period piece. If the music had actually been from the 20s, perhaps it would have been, but having modern music helps to sell the thought that this illusion, this breakdown of the American dream, could happen at any time.
- The opening scene that has Nick in the sanitarium, making that the frame for the rest of the movie. It was different, and it made a lot of sense. (These aren’t all going to be a whole paragraph long, apparently.)
- That being said, the ending where Nick writes “The Great” before Gatsby on the front of his manuscript. Did it kind of remind me of the introduction to My Antonia? Yes. But does that matter? I don’t really think so. And I liked that he owned the story, showing that it is all colored by his own bias.
- And even though we already knew who Leo was playing, I loved the reveal of Gatsby. How we knew it was him because of the ring, but we don’t see him until Nick actually sees him for the first time. Because, as you saw before, it’s Nick’s story of Gatsby. So the moment he sees him is a big deal.
- On the other hand, I loved the misdirection that Gatsby was driving the car. That’s how we see it in the book, but I think, in another movie, we actually saw the moment right before it hit Myrtle, so we could see who was driving. But since it was really Nick’s view of Gatsby we saw the whole time, I like that it showed it as though Gatsby as driving.
- The first scene in the Buchanan home, how Daisy acknowledged Tom’s indiscretion. “I don’t care what you do outside this house…” Correct me if I’m wrong, but we didn’t hear her say this in the book. It sets up the “family dynamic” of the time, or at least, of the Buchanan home.
- I’m no cinematic expert, but I did really love the visuals. I thought they were beautiful for one thing, but I also thought they focused on the right things for the story. I’d have to see it again to give a better analysis…if I even could give a better analysis. But there you go.
- The actors! I love Leonardo in general, and the way I saw it, he perfectly embodied Gatsby. Carey Mulligan was beautiful and seemed felt, to me, like a perfect Daisy to show the ways in which she is sympathetic as a victim and the ways she makes her own poor choices. I hate Tom’s character, and I knew that going in, but his actor made me believe it all over again, and the guy who played Wilson made me really believe he could perform the actions at the end of the story.
- And, finally, the first and last spoken lines. After he said the line about beating back against the current, I just mumbled, over and over, “please be over,” because I really wanted that to be the last spoken line, and it was, and just…sigh. SO lovely. What better way to credit the book?
There you go. My top ten things I loved from this movie. After only one viewing mind you, but I am hoping to see it again, maybe in 3D this time.