The Great Gatsby (2013)

great gatsby poster 2013 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Visuals of the most extreme of the extreme parties

Story is notorious

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Great Gatsby

Studio:  Village Roadshow Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  May 1, 2013 (Premiere)/May 10, 2013 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


She will be mine…oh yes, she will be mine!

Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a legend.  He throws the biggest parties, lived a storied life, and flaunts the excess of life at every turn.  Living next to Gatsby is Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) who has been sucked in Gatsby’s wild circle…but it might not be an accident.  Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton) are also part of Gatsby’s circle in that Daisy is Gatsby’s love.  The parties and the swinging style of Gatsby are about to catch up to him as he seeks the only thing he hasn’t captured…love.

Directed by Baz Luhrman, The Great Gatsby is a 3D adaptation on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel.  The film’s original release was pushed back from 2012 to 2013 and received mixed reviews from critics despite the strong box office returns.  The film won Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design.


Having an affair is fun!

The Great Gatsby was one of those books you were assigned to read in school that you were ok with.  The story was accessible but still deep and symbolic, and the characters resonated long after you put the book down.  Baz Luhrmann (like Gatsby) is known for his extreme directing so it seems like a natural fit…but the movie still has problems like many of the other adaptations.

The story for The Great Gatsby is perfect…as a book.  The problem with adapting Gatsby’s tale is that it is a story about someone observing and accessing someone else, but when it is brought to film form, you see perception as it is.  With film, the viewer sees Gatsby, his action, and the results.  There isn’t a filter like in the book in which Nick narrates the story and we only see Nick’s perspective.  Gatsby as a result comes off more manic, less sympathetic, and more controlling.  Everyone is supposed to be enamored with Gatsby and his decadence, but it is hard to be enamored with a guy who seems pretty psycho when you see it on screen.


Why does it feel like, somebody’s watching me?

The cast is great but suffers from the translation.  It is odd to say but DiCaprio is a bit too old for Gatsby who is supposed to be lamenting about being just over thirty and Maguire is supposed to be younger than him.  I love Carey Mulligan but her Daisy Buchannan doesn’t quite develop as much as I’d like (though it does show her shallow nature).  I thought Joel Edgerton does a bit better job rounding out Tom Buchanan.  The other character left behind are the Wilsons played by Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke who just feel shoehorned into the plot along with Elizabeth Debicki playing Jordan Baker (who I always felt didn’t really get developed enough in the story either).


Party like it’s 1922!

A lot of people had problems with Luhrman’s visuals for this movie, but that is one thing I didn’t have a problem with.  Fitzgerald was trying to present the extreme.  These were the craziest of crazy parties and characters who were living as extreme as possible.  Luhrmann’s parties are the parties of imagination and how I think Fitzgerald would have envisioned the most decadent of decant parties if he was imagining them today.  In addition to these over the top visuals, he also captured images like the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg just as you imagined them in the books…trapped somewhere between the beauty of West/East Egg and New York City.

The Great Gatsby is a problematic film.  I think it got a lot of stuff right, but also the film got a lot of stuff wrong…but more due to the difficulty of translating the book to film.  I don’t know that you can have a great version of The Great Gatsby that captures all the nuances of the book.  Plot aspects of the story inhibit the film from really taking form and like other versions before it, The Great Gatsby just doesn’t quite live up to the splendor that Fitzgerald imagined.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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