Can’t repeat the past? No, why, of course you can… of course you can.
A better question is can you create the past? Even as it was written, The Great Gatsby was a tale of the past. Each movie adaptation has attempted to recreate that past, which never existed. One of the best things about Baz Luhrmann’s update was the rejection of old-timey music. But mentioning the excellent usage of the song “No Church in the Wild,” evokes the wonderful trailer released for this film. It was the best preview of the year.
Carey Mulligan (Daisy) and Joel Edgerton (Tom), at Gatsby’s. © 2013 Warner Bros.
Unfortunately, the best part of the trailer does not make it in the film! That being the Filter version of “Happy Together.” Still, this is a complex story, so it must have been difficult to cut together an accurate preview. From the preview I expected Joel Edgerton’s character, Tom Buchanan to be more of a villain. He is simply who he is. A well educated, small minded lout, who does not mind slapping his mistress for badmouthing his wife. But he is not a criminal and not a murderer, just an entitled adulterer. He is married to the much sought after Daisy Buchanan–Carey Mulligan. Mulligan’s performance stole the film. She maintains a consistency throughout all that she faces, allowing the audience to see anything they want in her, much like the men in the film do. Her companion, Elizabeth Debicki, shows more personality, but also the twinge of self-doubt as she is more athletic and taller than might be generally found to be ladylike. I am a bit surprised in how her fledgling relationship with Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carroway seems to fizzle out. And the last actress to mention is the 1920′s pinup bombshell version of Isla Fisher—most famous for Wedding Crashers. With so much to get through for the main characters, I understand why she disappears from the film, but this could have been done more gradually.
Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson, in the single terrible costume in the otherwise cosmetically flawless Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Great Gatsby.
Even more impressive than the varied beauties provided in the film are the dynamic looks of its heroes, Carraway and Gatsby–Leonardo DiCaprio. The film opens with a weakened, alcoholic Carraway, which made me think that this was simply how Maguire looks today. That is absolutely not the case, as he looks chipper and dapper as a man in his late 20′s dressing for work, recreation, and dining. Gatsby, on the other hand, mostly appears in the visage of a movie star. Yet in one wet scene, even his perfect hair betrays his age as he mats it down like aging dog, long left out in the rain. Together they simultaneously show the grandeur of the Jazz Age, as well as the emptiness of its boozing elites.
DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Maguire as Carraway and Debicki as Jordan Baker in Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “The Great Gatsby.”
One criticism I heard leveled against this film is that it is too slow and too long. I disagree. The measured pace works for me, and it made the exciting parties and drives seem that much faster. To give this *** is to say that I did not know what to do with this film. It has provided me with so much to think about and so much to take in. On the other hand, it was a huge disappointment compared to that perfect preview. So there it is: ***