Great Gatsby Enthralls with Lavish Beauty

5 Jun



The first half of Baz Luhrman’s latest film, The Great Gatsby, can rightly be described as decadent, opulent and extravagant. You may know Baz from such films as Romeo and Juliet (Leonardo DiCaprio’s version) and the lovely Moulin Rouge. He has a certain unique flair to his designs but even Moulin Rouge doesn’t really compare to Gatsby in the intricacy of design in sets, set pieces and costumes. This movie can be viewed in 3D but I choose, as I do whenever I have the choice, to forgo that expensive and head ache inducing path. Seriously, have I touched on this? 3D is the worst.

I actually never read The Great Gatsby in high school and was especially excited to see it because I didn’t know the ins and outs of the story of this classic “Great American Novel”. I figured it had better be good, being an American classic and all. The story is tragic, which I didn’t know, but nothing makes the heart stir like a little tragedy. Gatsby is told from the POV of writer Nick Carraway, a recent grad from Yale who moves to New York and is drawn into his cousin Daisy’s whirling social life. Daisy has married Tom Buchanan, one of the richest men in the country, and their lives are luxurious; all that wealth hiding some damning secrets. Nick lives next door to Gatsby, a mysterious man who extends the hand of friendship to him, setting off events that will hopefully fascinate the viewer for two and a half hours.

The Great Gatsby really starts with a bang and certainly pulled me in quickly with the overwhelming splendor and beauty, not only of the environment in the film but of the actors as well. Carrey Mulligan manages to be stunning in her simple loveliness. There is one especially enchanting scene when we first meet Daisy, played by Mulligan. Daisy lies on a chaise lounge, obscured by floating sheer drapery panels. They are whipping about the room, tossed around by the breeze in the most mesmerizing fashion. It’s these small moments in a film that take one’s breath away and invite you to escape to 1920’s New York. Enough cannot be said about the parties thrown at Gatsbys’ and their level of excitement and finery. However, even though this film looks great, the heart of a film is still its story and characters. I don’t want to elaborate too much on the plot because I felt going into this movie blind was a great asset and hopefully you will too. I can say that though the performances are good, many of the characters are quite intolerable, but you’ll have to draw your own conclusions about that. There are quite a few lines of dialogue that you can tell are exactly Fitzgerald’s words without even having read the book. Their eloquence and saturation in absolute truth of observation of the human condition are timeless. Ultimately, every good story, in my humble opinion of course, has at its heart a boy who loves a girl and hopefully vice versa.

The Great Gatsby is incredibly long at 2 hours and 23 minutes, and sadly it’s unnecessarily long because there are a few drawn out scenes that really kill the pacing. One other small critique is that perhaps Baz should not have hired well known celebs to play supporting characters because it becomes quite distracting at times and there is enough to keep your eyes on the screen in this kaleidoscope of colour. DiCaprio is good as Gatsby; there are a few scenes with Gatsby nervous around his love interest that are absolutely adorable and giggle worthy. 

Overall I would recommend seeing this if you have a fondness for period pieces, or a good love story. The movie is incredibly romantic in its visual splendor but also at it’s core. I don’t just mean romantic in its conventional definition (you know, hearts and flowers and giddy feelings of excitement around that one person) but also in that “take me away somewhere unfamiliar” way. Do you know what I mean? I hope so. If you don’t, email me and I’ll explain love to you. 


Just kidding. Don’t do that. 


One Response to “Great Gatsby Enthralls with Lavish Beauty”

  1. sloandaley June 5, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Teach me how to love, Rachel.
    In all seriousness, I may check out this movie now. Didn’t know it was the same director as Romeo & Juliet.

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