I guess there is a reason why I'm not a movie critic. Because I loved this movie, and I just shake my head when I read all the scathing reviews. I don't get it.
Although this book by F. Scott Fitzgerald is compulsory reading for every high school English class, I will refresh your memory. Jazz Age New York. Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire and our narrator for the story), a fresh-faced college grad, has moved into town to get into the bond market. He rents a cottage on Long Island, next door to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a flashy new-money guy who is known for his extravagant parties and decadent lifestyle. Nick is also the cousin of Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) who is married to old-money Long Islander Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Tom is a bit of a pompous ass, cheats on Daisy on a regular basis and flaunts this fact with flair.
The critics have bitched about the insane, manic, over-the-top energy of the movie...the modern rap soundtrack anachronistically nestled amongst a swirling blur of flappers, confetti and heavy eye makeup. But seriously? Isn't that what we paid for? Based on what I love about Baz Luhrmann and his lack of restraint onscreen, I would have been disappointed if he hadn't given me an eye feast. He also did honor to the novel, with a few minor exceptions.
I did NOT see the 3D version. It seemed like an unnecessary addition to an already busy agenda. I don't think this movie needed anything swinging out at me.
So how did my re-read go? I originally consumed this classic in high school, like everyone else on earth. (Hey, my high school was not exactly cutting edge, so if I was required to read it, I'm pretty sure everyone was.) I don't think I appreciated the finer points of the plot back then. What did I know of cheating husbands, cheating wives, materialism and the lifestyle of the decadent and depraved? I was a farm girl! What I did appreciate, as I recall, besides a lot of chatter about the green light, was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach (similar to the one I felt when reading Of Mice and Men), hating Daisy and feeling pity for Gatsby.
And honestly, my emotions were exactly the same today. Having Leo's sweet face burned on my brain as Jay Gatsby didn't help matters one bit. I enjoyed the re-read, and felt it was extremely helpful in seeing the movie, and knowing what was coming.
As I complained yesterday in my Sunday Salon, the audio itself was HORRID. For example, I was trucking along, enjoying the story, when all of the sudden, it goes back about 20 minutes and repeats exactly what I'd already heard. It did that THREE TIMES. I'm not sure if that was the fault of my library or the actual recording, as it was a digital download. Can you imagine? Curse words were erupting from me. I was a Vesuvius of curse. Then the narrator, Alexander Scourby, kept making wet mouth noises and was smoking throughout the recording. It wouldn't have surprised me if I'd heard the clink of ice in his glass of bourbon, for God's sake. Just because it was The Great Gatsby didn't give him permission to distract the listener with such rubbish. So if you are going to listen to this short audio (approximately 5 hours, but how the hell would I actually know?) I would highly recommend you get your hands on the Jake Gyllenhaal version. It has to be a better version.
Story: 5 out of 5 stars
Audio: 1 out of 5 stars
Movie: 4.5 out of 5 stars