Mook Review: “The Great Gatsby” Part Two – Guest Post!

The lovely Stephanie of The Anxiety of Authorship has offered her pen to a guest mook review – a two part piece focusing on “The Great Gatsby.”  You can read Part One of her mook review by clicking here; an analysis on The Great Gatsby novel and the 1974 “The Great Gatsby” movie directed by Jack Clayton.  Stephanie has now provided me with her review and rating of “Gatsby” directed by Baz Luhrmann, and I must say I agree with her review whole heartedly!  Check it out below…

“Gatsby” – Directed by Baz Luhrmann

via Wikipedia.org

via Wikipedia.org

I wanted to like the new Gatsby movie more than I did. The build-up to it was tremendous–the stunning trailers, the talented actors, the creative and well-respected director, the Jay-Z produced soundtrack featuring huge names in music today. Like Gatsby’s invention of himself for Daisy’s approval, everything about this film is built to impress us. Though Luhrmann delivered the most entertaining Gatsby film to date, it did not reach the greatness I expected.

The main reason I can’t say the movie is great is because it includes a lot of unnecessary scenes, and also adds many unnecessary clichés to the story.  I tend to be open-minded to all kinds film interpretations of books, but I could not stand that Luhrmann turned this into a story within a story with Nick telling it all to a doctor in an insane asylum. The doctor then goes on to encourage Nick to write the story out on paper, leading him to write–you guessed it–The Great Gatsby. I often enjoy unique story structures, especially when there is a writer character involved, but I felt like I’d seen this structuring a million times before. There are other minor clichés in the film, such as cuts to shooting stars in the night’s sky (for some reason that really bothered me), cuts to the green light over and over again, and the hammering of “old sport” again and again. I know that “old sport” is Gatsby’s catchphrase, but I didn’t think he was supposed to say it that much. I think the film also tries to be too sweeping with all of the flash backs to Daisy and Gatsby’s lives before living in New York–again, such scenes were just unnecessary.

Despite the above, there are many things that work. The acting is great. There is a way each character speaks that just emanates the past. Each actor mastered a Golden Age accent specific to his or her character. Leonardo DiCaprio also brings much passion, obsession, and anguish to Gatsby as a character–and it works. I was only disappointed with Myrtle. Luhrmann chose not to focus much on Myrtle, though she’s supposed to be a quite loud and ridiculous personality. There was nothing wrong with the actress per say, but I thought she should have had a larger on-screen presence. The intermixing of modern and classic music throughout the film also works, although not in the way I expected.

It’s odd. I left the theater disappointed and a little embarrassed to be wearing my Great Gatsby book cover t-shirt. But since then, I’ve found the film sticking with me–I’ve been thinking a lot about what works/what doesn’t, thinking about my favorite scenes (Gatsby and Daisy’s first meeting scene at Nick’s house, and the Plaza Hotel scene), and downloading songs from the soundtrack. This must mean something. Although the film includes unnecessary scenes, and might feed into what popular audiences want, I know Luhrmann had good intentions, and I still enjoyed his surrealistic interpretation of such a classic story. I give this mook 3 stars.

Mook Rating – ★★★

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13 thoughts on “Mook Review: “The Great Gatsby” Part Two – Guest Post!

    • Thank you! Yeah it unfortunately failed. But not enough for me to completely hate it either. It’s complicated, haha.

  1. I wonder if it is even possible for any movie to live up to the book. If Redford and Farrow couldn’t do it, I had my doubts. I went in and tried to have an open mind, but I agree with you totally. It was a letdown, but the soundtrack is fantastic!

    • I thought it was possible only because this version was supposed to be a surreal take on the book. I’d hoped it would enhance the book in a new way–but not change the entire premise of the story to an over-done structure. Yes, it was a let down, but at least we have a good soundtrack to listen to! Thanks for commenting!

  2. I wonder if it is even possible for any movie to live up to the book. If Redford and Farrow couldn’t do it, I had my doubts. I went in and tried to have an open mind, but I agree with you totally. It was a letdown, but the soundtrack is fantastic!

  3. Pingback: The Good Gatsby | The Anxiety of Authorship

  4. I’m glad you enjoyed the movie and chose to write about this newest version of the Great Gatsby. I read the book and saw this in theaters and was blown away with it. I later went back and watched the 1970’s version which I was disappointed with after this Luhrmann spectacular. I enjoyed the flashbacks with Daisy and Gatsby because it made their passion for each other so much more imminant and strong for me. I agree the best scenes were of Gatsby and Daisy’s first meeting at Nick’s house and I agree with you about his lack of attention to Myrtle. Nice review.

  5. I totally agree with this! I thought it was a good, even great movie, but it wasn’t perfect. And even though I was disappointed, I couldn’t get the movie out of my head.

  6. I love the concept of your blog. I liked the film more than I expected, but that might be because I hated the book. I thought that Luhrman did quite well with a not so great book. But agreed about the Nick as a Fitzgerald in a mental asylum frame, it was a little bit “do I like it, or is it chew my fist cringey?”

  7. I also didn’t read the book carefully when I had to read it in high school. I read it years later. I liked the film adaptation because it kept me thinking about its themes just like the book did. In the “Gatsby” DVD extras, Baz Luhrmann says that they incorporated some of Fitzgerald’s biography into the film adaptation. They did the same thing for the film adaptation of “On the Road”. I think that this might have been done to create more drama because both of the books’ narrators were observers. Great review nonetheless! I could go on and on about “Gatsby” but this isn’t my blog haha.

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