I never read the book before watching the movie. It seems like an essential piece to read the book before any movie, but sometimes it cannot be helped. Despite the film’s release date being pushed back from December 2012 to May 2013, it didn’t occur to me to jump on the book. After seeing the previews I was really looking forward to the film. The lead role of Jay Gatsby was given to Leonardo Di Caprio, which immediately sets the tone for a great view.
The theme of the story was opulence, and the lifestyles of the rich, specifically in Long Island during the 1920’s. Money is spent on extravagant furnishings, clothing, jewelry, and parties. Gatsby is the focus of such extravagance as he throws elaborate parties for anyone to attend, and many of whom question if he really exists. Wild stories are tossed around about the history of their kind host, while they consume copious amounts of alcohol and enjoy a wild night on the dime of someone else. As the story progresses, more is revealed about Gatsby, and his mysterious past.
Although Gatsby is the pinnacle of our story, Nick Caraway is our narrator and our eyes. Played by Tobey Maguire, Caraway is our inside ticket to Gatsby. Coming to the Long Island area and the fictitious village of West Egg, Caraway visits his cousin Daisy Buchanan (played by Carey Mulligan). Through this connections, Gatsby befriends Caraway to get closer to Daisy revealing that they have a history together. Although Daisy is married, she has conflicting feelings as she once loved Gatsby and still does. The extravagance is a mask that covers up lies and the history of the characters.
Gatsby is my favorite character, mainly because of the portrayal done by Leonardo Di Caprio. Daisy comes in a close second, as she is such a delicate and lovely character, but at the same time she is one of the characters that annoys me in the film. Unfortunately, the details of that annoyance is not something I can discuss for those of you who have not seen the film or read the story.
The music for the film is rather out of place at times, as Jay-Z was one of the executive producers for the soundtrack. The songs fit the scenes, I will give them that, but they take the era out of the film. Lana Del Ray lends her vocals to a song called Young and beautiful. Her voice is haunting and beautiful. A perfect fit for the film and the best song of the soundtrack.
Although extravagance is a main theme in the film, the village of West Egg is a wasteland of dirt and coal which are mainly computer generated. The main scene that sticks out in my mind, even with all the wild parties and decorations, is a moment with Gatsby and Daisy in Nick Caraway’s cottage. Gatsby does a complete overhaul to the outside to make it more appealing and fills the inside full of orchid arrangements. In the one room alone, the orchid arrangements must have cost thousands upon thousands of dollars just for that one scene.
I cannot end my review without touching on the cover of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It features a blue background with lights and a face. The face does not have any defining characteristics that determine whether it is male or female. The lips are done in a bright red that hints at them belonging to Daisy, but most likely belong to Nick who is our eyes of the story. The film features a billboard in West Egg that is for an optometrist. The billboard, although in rough shape, is a reproduction of the books cover, focusing on the eyes, rather than the mouth. A large pair of glasses are placed over them, but the film constantly reverts back to this billboard, and perhaps the idea that someone is always watching.
The film was completely new to me, as I had not read the book as mentioned. It was spoiled for me, by hearing reviews and a mention of a great twist at the end of the film. The film did end with a dramatic and shocking series of events, but the film lead up to the events making the ending less dramatic for me as I was waiting for this “twist” that never came. I would have liked to have caught the film in theatres to full enjoy the 3D effect, but watching it at home is still good. The film is over 2 hours and 22 minutes long which could be problematic for some, but I wouldn’t completely write it off as it is worth the watch.