I have mentioned The Great Gatsby 2013 more than a few times over the past several months without having seen it. Based on the trailers alone (and the fact that Baz Luhrmann directed it), I declared it offensive and complete and utter rubbish.
Many people have told me I was too quick to judge, that I should actually see it before casting any judgment—good, bad, or otherwise.
Well, my darlings, I saw it this past Sunday and can now say with confidence that all my suspicions were right—it is absolutely horrible. I’ll give you the highlights here and you can decide for yourself whether you want to see it.
Narrator Nick Carraway Goes to an Insane Asylum
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, the narrator Nick Carraway tells the reader his experience in New York in the early 1920s after he has gone back to the Midwest, tired of the fast-paced, self-indulgent lifestyle in the east.
In Luhrmann’s Gatsby 2013, Nick has cracked up. He has gone to an insane asylum a beaten up alcoholic and tells his story to a shrink.
This leaves out an important part of the book that compares the point of view of an unassuming Midwesterner exposed to the new and old privileged class on Long Island. There is a “no place like home” attitude conveyed here. Luhrmann robs us of that.
Hip Hop Hell Complete with “Flappers” Doing a Pop, Lock, and Drop It
This film is not supposed to be a modernized version of the book. If it were a modernized version, I might be able to accept the fact that hip hop music runs throughout the film. That is what some of the younger set is into these days, after all.
However, the viewer is to assume this is taking place in 1922—with the guests at Gatsby’s elaborate parties dancing in a modern way to Jay-Z and other hip hop music.
In the scene where Gatsby and Nick meet up with the shady Meyer Wolfsheim, there are several “flappers” on a stage dancing wildly to extremely annoying music, and even do a pop, lock, and drop it.
REALLY? Yes, really. I almost threw up and walked out at that point.
And Don’t Even Get Me Started about the Stupid Flying Text….
In addition to how annoying hip hop BS, Luhrmann thought it was a good idea to put text from the novel on the screen at random points in Gatsby 2013.
The visual effect this has is rather distracting and unnecessary. And they have two versions of this. One is just the plain old floating text (which I saw) and the other has the text in, God help us, 3D, which my brother saw 24 hours before my seeing this film.
Even the few people I have seen who actually like this film thought that was stupid.
Horrible Cinematography and the Overuse of CGI
One of the things I pay close attention to is the cinematography of a film. I like to see things that are visually stunning and mesh well with the story. Gatsby 2013 completely fails at this.
The way the scenes move is a complete eyesore. It succeeds at confusing the viewer because too many things happen at once, and focuses way too much on insignificant props and not the color themes that Fitzgerald focused on in the novel.
Luhrmann’s overuse of CGI makes it look like a failed attempt at modern animation. The backgrounds are clearly computer generated and gaudy. Simply put, this film is ugly.
This Film Does Have Some Redeeming Features Despite its Crappiness
One redeeming feature of Gatsby 2013 is Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. Even though I do not like the fact that the film turned Nick into an alcoholic suffering from a mental collapse, I think Tobey’s portrayal of Nick is excellent. And trust me, I had some reservations about casting him in this role before I saw the film, regardless of how excruciatingly adorable he is (and he IS that). He is completely believable as Nick.
The only other redeeming feature is the scene where Gatsby meets Daisy for tea at Nick’s cottage. I am no fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, but he played this scene well. You truly feel how nervous Gatsby is when he finally gets the chance to see the love of his life after five long years of being separated from her. Gatsby is darling here.
Overall, though, the film is over hyped trash, just as I suspected. Even if I wasn’t going into it with a completely biased point of view, I believe I would have seen it this way.
Now I turn things over to you, dear readers. What are your thoughts about The Great Gatsby 2013? Please share what you think by leaving a comment below!