The Great Gatsby (2013)


Age Rating (UK/US): 12A / PG-13

Following on from my recent review of the novel, I decided to watch Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (you can check out my book review here).

Here’s the trailer for the film:

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a massive fan of this film which I will get to but I will start with the positives.

Overall it is a very close adaptation of the novel and for the most part the events occur as they do in the novel (the only thing I noticed was missing is after Nick goes to Gatsby’s first party there is a minor car crash which happens which offers a sense of foreboding of the events which form the books tragic ending.

The film is also beautifully shot, I have seen a few of Baz Luhrmann’s films and anyone who is a fan of his films, especially Moulin Rouge will notice his visual flourishes here with 1920’s New York coming across with a real sense of glamour and the garishness of the visuals does combine brilliantly with the feeling Fitzgerald gives across in the novel of these people living n the edge.

However for me this is also where the positives end. The strangest part of the film is the score – though I do remember the films release and some of the songs which came from the soundtrack were quite popular hits, such as Will.I.Am’s Bang Bang and Emeli Sande’s jazz cover of Byeonce’s Crazy In Love (videos below).

Though I did like these songs separately to the film, during the film I found the soundtrack really jarring as it also features rap music and though on one level it probably shows the decadence of the 1920s I also found it really broke the immersion and I didn’t enjoy the soundtrack overall.

The other thing that I had to say is for all the visual pop it was actually a case of style over substance and even quite boring in places. I didn’t really believe Leonardo Dicaprio as Gatsby and neither did I believe in Tobey Maguire as Nick who didn’t engage me at all compared to the character in the book. Though I thought Carey Mulligan was excellent as Daisy in most of the scenes, I didn’t really see her chemistry with DiCaprio’s Gatsby in the film either and I actually found after I got bored of the visual pop I was falling asleep towards the middle and end of the film.

There was also an odd narrative choice of a sub-plot involving Nick seeing some kind of psychiatrist at the beginning of the novel and then getting the desire to write the actual novel. I have a feeling this was done to show Nick is an unreliable narrator in the film as he is in the book as we see a diagnosis chart which says he drinks heavily and has insomnia. However this gives the impression Nick is mentally ill, not unreliable as a narrator.

Overall, though I’ve given the film credit for its fairly accurate adaptation of the events of the book and the visual effects, the soundtrack and performances in the end make it a case of style over substance and I wouldn’t recommend people watch it.

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