“Gatsby” truthfully not that “Great”

Gatsby truthfully not that Great

Charlie Connelly, Staff Reporter

What is true love? A tantalizing subject to say the least, but nevertheless is a question that at some point in a person’s life is contemplated upon. Love has and will always be one of the world’s largest mysteries. Does it exist? If so, what are the lengths you would go to obtain such a treasured feeling? For wealthy Long Islander Jay Gatsby, he would do just about anything to repair the true love of the one he once loved the most. However, there are dire consequences that come with the territory when high stake situations such as those arise. The magnificent story and film The Great Gatsby is the tale of how those feelings once illuminated, can have the power to overrule just about any obstacle.

In the summer of 1922, Yale graduate and World War I returnee Nick Carraway (Tobey McGuire), restless from life in the Midwest decides to move to New York, in search to learn a thing or two about the bond business. He moves in to West Egg, Long Island where he is neighbor to Gatsby’s Mansion. Across the bay in East Egg live Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), Daisy being Nick’s cousin. Nick is invited to dinner with the two and is introduced to Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki), whom informs Nick that the caller Tom gets during dinner is Tom’s love interest from New York, Myrtle Wilson, who is also wife to Long Island garage owner George Wilson.

One day Tom invites Nick to go along with him to the Wilsons. Once there however, pandemonium breaks loose as Myrtle brings up Daisy’s name and Tom breaks her nose. Weeks later after the incident, Nick is brought to one of Jay Gatsby’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) famous Saturday night parties, where he realizes that Jay doesn’t drink nor take any action in the wild events at the mansion party. Later at a luncheon, Gatsby explains to Nick that he wants to set him up on a date with Daisy, his once true love. The two had fallen in love five years earlier but since Jay left to go to war, Daisy could no longer wait and so she married Buchanan. With the help of Nick setting up the two the improbable could become a reality for Gatsby, but it would have to be a miracle. The love that the two once shared could possibly flourish once more.

This intricate and dramatic tale of love portrayed in The Great Gatsby is definitely of a high quality, but up to my expectations? Not quite. Having never read the book prior to having seen the film, I can’t say that there was a very high bar that the film did not reach, but nevertheless I was still disappointed. I had seen tons of previews for the film, and with such an A list cast, I thought for sure that the film would be a gigantic success. However to my dismay, it was not. It’s hard to describe but there was just a feeling the movie left me with that I had not hoped for going into it. There were a variety of different reasons that can be put into words however as to why this film was not as great as I had wished it was.

First of all, for lack of a better term, the film dragged. I personally thought that some scenes could have been condensed in half. Whenever I watch a movie I want to be bewitched by the aura of the story and to be captured as if I were no longer in a theater, but in the movie itself. With The Great Gatsby though I kept catching myself checking my watch every so often as to how long I had really been in there. Although the film was nearly two and a half hours it felt like an eternity.

Additionally, I thought that the modern twists that were put into the film were also a bit off putting. I know that director Baz Luhrmann, (Romeo and Juliet/Moulin Rougue) has a definite modern style, if you will, in all of his films, but in the case of this one, I just don’t really think the effectiveness of that tactic worked all that well.  Songs in the movie such as “100$ Bill” by Jay-Z, “Back to Black” by Beyonce and Andre 3000, and “Bang Bang” by Will I Am, in my opinion took away some of the ambiance of the 1920’s feeling I thought I was going to get. For being a time piece I thought that the soundtrack would kind of follow that “roaring twenties sound”, but it didn’t. Not to take anything away from Beyonce or Jay-Z, but I just don’t think their genre in music worked that well with the film.

From how I’ve depicted my reactions to the film, you would probably think I hated Gatsby, but there were also aspects to the movie that I thought made the film well done. Firstly, I thought that the combination of Tobey McGuire and Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic. Having only really seen McGuire in the Spider Man trilogy, it was nice to see him in a much more serious role in a film like The Great Gatsby. He took on a very difficult role, and the fact that he held his own on screen with the best actor of our time, Leonardo DiCaprio, speaks volumes on his acting skills. As for DiCaprio, he was his normal self; superb. Although he has never won an Oscar, he is without a doubt one of the best actors of all time and that is definitely shown in this film. I would not be surprised at all if he was nominated for an Oscar, because his depiction of Jay Gatsby was absolutely perfect.

On a side note, it isn’t very well known but McGuire and DiCaprio are also longtime off-screen friends, having been great friends since they were preteens on Growing Pains, so in that light, I think their chemistry in real life was conveyed perfectly into this film.

In final regards to what I feel was a letdown, I think that The Great Gatsby overall was average. It had its highpoints and its low points, but at the end of the day I can definitely say it was a pretty decent film. A word of advice that may be hard to follow, considering the hype of the film, is to go into it with low expectations. If you go into seeing the movie with low expectations you may be pleasantly surprised. Truthfully though, if you don’t end up seeing the film this summer, you’re not missing much.