‘The Great Gatsby’ Movie Review: Beautiful But Messy

The Great Gatsby Review
The Great Gatsby Review
Baz Luhrmann’s much anticipated The Great Gatsby is now out in theaters, but is everything that you hoped it would be from the decadent trailers? The stunning cinematography, the awarding-winning cast, and a soundtrack that does a wonderful job at modernizing the whole experience – it is all there. But the rest of the film is just a mess. Ultimately, the ambitious style overpowers the rest of the film.

The first half of Great Gatsby is over-the-top between the editing, tone, and visual stimulation. Then the second half feels as if there is a complete disconnect in terms of visual consistency. Sure, one could argue that the second half of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel clearly had a different feel than the first half – but even with that being noted, it feels unfinished and unpolished. It needed less and yet something more at the same time.

I feel as if those words have never been written in regards to Luhrmann. Needing something more for a Baz Luhrmann film? It’s usually just the opposite. Normally there is far too much in his films, and the audiences are just overwhelmed. That being said, isn’t that point? Isn’t that what we all look forward to? A movie where any frame could be taken and made into a piece of art? Beautiful costumes and styles that inspire us to change up a little something in our own lives? Music that gets stuck in our head and on repeat on our iPods? That definitely describes my love affair with Moulin Rouge.

I won’t go into breaking down the plot of The Great Gatsby which I feel like most of us read in school (or at least I hope). There’s a long list of interesting themes to explore and analyze with that novel… themes which really didn’t even have a chance to come to life in this film. The fatal allure which the novel represents doesn’t fully translation here, despite solid performances from Leonardo DiCaprio (Gatsby), Carey Mulligan (Daisy Buchanan), Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan), and a wide-eyed Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway). The audience never fully makes an emotional connection with Gatsby or Daisy, something that would have made a rather profound difference with this tale of love and murder.

Other directors have attempted The Great Gatsby, and critics haven’t been pleased with any of them. Luhrmann presents a different approach – and I still think his concept was unique and commendable. He does an incredible job with modernizing classic themes in all of his projects. However, the overall task of what he’s trying to create here seems just too grand for even him to tackle. Perhaps this is why he says his movies are never complete? He just has to let them go.

Overall, it’s a gorgeous movie, and if you are going to see it – see it in 3D. This is the first film I’ve seen that I felt the 3D effects truly added to the artistic nature of the movie and made you feel engulfed in the experience. There are no corny effects (such as something being thrown into the audience) – 3D is one of the few things The Great Gatsby truly mastered. If only the rest of the film could have been as impressive and refined – perhaps then Hollywood would have finally gotten this tale right.

Grade: C+
Review By: Emma Loggins


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  1. I never read the book, but I imagine this doesn’t quite do it justice. I saw it tonight in 3D and thought the first half was over-the-top visually, in a good way. The second half slowed way down. I enjoyed it overall.