Let me preface this by saying — The Great Gatsby was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. Which is probably good, because I was super nervous. First it got delayed from its original December 2012 release date, which was boldly right in the middle of Oscar season, to the infinitely less consequential March 2013, only to be pushed back yet again, into May, on this very day. Hip hip huzzahhhh…? Doesn’t do a whole lot to put a lady at ease, know what I mean? And up until its release, they kept releasing trailer after trailer after trailer…so many trailers that if you watched them all, it was hard to believe you hadn’t already seen the whole movie.
But finally, cheat sheet in hand, it was time for me to go and watch the actual movie instead of just having pseudo-arguments with it in my head. (“You let me down, okay?! I knew you would but I’m still disappointed! I trusted you!) And maybe because I’d set the bar so low, and maybe because they’ve given themselves forty-thousand years to fine tune it, it wasn’t actually as bad as I thought. If you’re worth your high school salt, you already know the story, so I won’t bore you with that; let’s just get straight into the movie deets.
I don’t know why this surprises me, but Carey Mulligan was actually really great! I imagine it would be a very difficult part to play, because Daisy herself intentionally plays such a caricature of a human being, to protect herself from the world, but I thought Carey found a great depth to it, layering artifice over genuine emotion that I wasn’t expecting to be drawn into. Elizabeth Debicki and Isla Fisher also did a good job blowing out the characters of Jordan and Myrtle in traditional Baz Luhrman fashion, making them big and brashy and showy without being too hammy, which is a difficult line to walk. Joel Edgerton kinda killed it, too, especially because it would’ve been so easy for him to be lazy and just be a standard cheating husband with no depth or dimension. Instead he had an edge and a stealthy danger to him, and he and Carey worked successfully together to make it clear why his manipulations were successful. Also the sets were beautiful, as we all knew they would be, and the costumes were great. You guys see Moulin Rouge? You like it? Well it looks like that, only slightly less successful, even in the big group scenes.
The music, as great as the soundtrack is, is pretty distracting. At one point some of the movie’s white people are driving up in a car next to some of the movie’s black people, and FIRST OF ALL everybody’s sitting up out of the car in a way that physics dictates would send them spinning onto the highway, but they’re also pumping Jay-Z, which is very confusing to my historical ears. They’re like, “OMG what? What year is it? We’re ears!” Also, Tobey Maguire is not great, guys. He’s just like…a sad sack. I know he and Leonardo DiCaprio are biffles in real life, so I was excited to see rare hints of that under the surface, but it wasn’t there! How disappointing. And SPEAKING of Leo, what the eff? Jay Gatsby is probably another part that’s really hard to play, but I remember Leo being a better actor than this. Maybe he shouldn’t be in forty-five films a year? He maybe needs a nap? I don’t know what it is, but I felt like his reading was super one-dimensional, aside from one nice sweater he wears at one point that I could really get behind. For one thing, they had a few too many ‘old sports’ thrown in there, and for another, they forgot to make him in any way likable. Whomp whomp. It was a dark day for Leo, but one that the movie tried to spice up with lots of unnecessary car chases! Which are exciting to watch until you realize that those cars are going like…twenty miles an hour. Maybe. TOO FAST TOO SPURIOUS.
Oh my god you guys do not do not DO NOT pay for the 3D. It’s ridiculous. It’s like a children’s pop up book inserted between scenes that you’re actually supposed to take seriously. It’s a joke. The whole movie kind of is, but not the terrible, mind-numbing joke I thought it was gonna be. Just a pretty bad knock-knock joke. Things could be worse.
(Image: Thompson Hotels)