Running time: 2 hours, 22 minutes
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Ah, The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved book about millionaire Jay Gatsby is set in the Roaring Twenties, and this 2013 movie version aims to do it justice. Visually, this movie is stunning. The music had my hips moving.
The sets are beautiful. Colorful. Energetic.
Unfortunately, this energy doesn’t carryover to the storyline. It’s just…good grief, I was bored. It’s lovely to watch but it’s a chore to endure it, and that’s because the dialogue is lazy and the characters are dull and one-dimensional. Leo did his best with the role of Jay Gatsby, and for this reason I think the movie should be renamed as The Great DiCaprio.
Nick Carraway (Maguire), his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan), and her husband Tom (Edgerton) carries us through the beginning scenes of the movie, where Nick moves to West Egg in New York, and Daisy and Tom conveniently live across the bay in East Egg. Here we set up the one dimensional characters. Tom is an angry bird who snaps at everyone, and he regularly cheats on Daisy. I was disappointed with Daisy because she only existed in terms of the people around her- she’s someone for Tom to cheat on, she’s someone for Gatsby to lust for, and she’s someone that Nick can pity, but she never had her own identity as her own person.
I’m not sure if Tobey Maguire was miscast as Nick, or maybe it was the script and/or director that diminished the importance of this character. Nick is very passive and he slowly fades into the background as more characters are introduced. He narrates the movie and he also shares the most scenes with Gatsby but I did not have a connection with him. It seems Nick was under-developed on purpose to make sure he doesn’t take away from The Great DiCaprio.
So. Let’s talk about Leo, as the flashy millionaire who earns Nick’s admiration and yearns for Daisy’s love. We first meet Gatsby at one of his lavish parties, and let me tell you – his introduction scene is MARVELOUS. I had to rewind and re-watch that scene twice. Love it. The music is thumping, there’s lights everywhere, all of the attendees are beautiful and then Leo flashes his dazzling smile- swoon!
But the more we see of Gatsby, the duller this movie becomes. One person cannot carry a movie, and Leo does his best to charm the audience and keep its attention. The problem is, Gatsby shines while the supporting characters are just sitting around watching him. He is the star while everyone else appears so he has people to talk at (not talk ‘to’) during the movie. I felt a huge disconnect between the in-depth character analysis of Gatsby compared to the predictability of the shallow supporting characters.
Read the book instead. I’m serious. It’s a good book.