Monday, May 27, 2013

"The Great Gatsby" Review

As a fan of Baz Lurhmann's "Moulin Rouge," "Romeo + Juliet" and "Strictly Ballroom," I was excited to see this movie. As someone who's been obsessed with F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories and the  20's and 30's for the past year (reading Anais Nin & Henry Miller right now), I was thrilled to step into this era and writing.

I have to make the disclaimer that I haven't read "The Great Gatsby" since Mr. Boyd's 10th grade English class. And, frankly, I didn't like it back then. Daisy Buchanan seemed like one of the worst heroines in literature - fluffy, flighty and shallow. Jay Gatsby seemed too stuffy and repressed to be "great."  I was confused by the end scene with the cars and hit and run. I think we might have watched the Robert Redford version in school, and I don't think that helped.

With that said, I enjoyed the movie. I adore Carey Mulligan from "An Education," and she helped Daisy become a multi-layered and complex character. We could understand her struggle with conforming to demands of society and accepting her own emotions. Leonardo was intense and vulnerable as Gatsby, which made him more than the aloof shadow lurking in the windows. And, Tobey Maguire. Please. He's perfect. Though the unshaven writer at the typewriter harkened images Ewan MacGregor in "Moulin Rouge," but that's the director's actions.

Baz Lurhmann definitely made this movie grand and visually enticing. By the way, I'm grateful there was a non-3D version of the film. I'm sick of 3D movies and frustrated with "Life of Pi" for being 3D. Yes, it's wonderful creative challenge for all, but it's a major headache and I feel distanced from the screen. The movie wasn't as crazy as "Moulin Rouge," but still captivating. I did like the soundtrack and especially the Jay-Z added a pulse to certain scenes.

The parties were definitely lavish, but perhaps Lurhmann should've consulted Real Housewife Adrienne Maloof for outrageous party ideas.

By the way, the Daisy Buchanan fashion collection is amazing. Of course, I learn now it's all Prada. I wanted to reach through the screen and grab her jewelry and dresses! The one with the white crystals she wore to the party was genius and sublime. And, the overall theme of this movie is extramarital connections.

For Bollywood fans, Amitabh's appearance is quite short. So, don't go expecting a lot of screentime. But, as always, he delivers.

Returning to F. Scott Fitzgerald, I'm even more in awe of him. A story that is almost 100 years old is still luring and charming audiences. The story is the backbone of this movie, while everything else is its interpretation by the actors and the directors. 

Parental Comments
So, now that my daughter is 12 and this movie is rated PG-13, she's informed me that her friends have seen the movie and are reading the book. Well, bravo to the friends reading the book in 6th grade. I would have recommended they start with another Scott Fitzgerald story like "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" or something with less complex characters.

As for the movie, there are party scenes that are not appropriate for the tweens. I don't know if they would fully grasp the inference of "humping noises" in another room, but the overindulgence of alcohol, drugs and promiscuity is obvious in those party scenes.

Personally, I don't see the value of this movie being seen by a younger audience. My message to my daughter is that movies and books will always be there. They're not going away, and when you get older you'll get more out of them. There are books I read in my early 20's that are more meaningful now in my 40's.

It's hard when you're young to be patient and wait for the future. It's hard to know your friends have seen a movie that you can't see. However, as  parent, I don't want to be pushed by Hollywood, media or other parents who do not have the same beliefs I do. I know my parents would not have allowed us to watch this when I was in 6th grade; we were told to leave the room during "Three's Company." We'll just put this movie on hold for another few years and watch it after she reads "Gatsby" in school.