Aaaah. It’s been a while. When I’ve had the time, I’ve attempted to watch some of the films that have come out recently, but if I have to be honest, since Oscar season has been and gone, there hasn’t really been anything that has grabbed my attention. Apart from The Great Gatsby. This had always been a title that I had recognised and I was only half familiar with the story. But with the film coming out, it meant that I could finally find out once and for all what it was! I was especially excited after seeing that it was directed by Baz Lurhmann. With Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge under his wing already, I was excited to see what he would be able to produce for the rich and wonderful story that is The Great Gatsby.
First off, lets talk visuals, which are, by far, the most obviously worked on aspect of the film. After the previously mentioned Lurhmann films, I expected nothing less than what he provides us for Gatbsy. The overall look of the film nicely reflects the overtly rich and ridiculous lifestyle of the characters of West Egg, Long Island. The scene of which both the audience and, narrator, Nick Carroway (Tobey Maguire) first attend one of Gatsby’s legendary parties is quite literally mind-blowing. It is quite possibly the high point of the film, as everything from soundtrack to visuals and atmosphere work together to create something quite spectacular which successfully makes you envious of the hundreds of people, who aren’t even real people, that are able to attend the parties. The colour palette of the film is beautiful. The colours are so strong, and vibrant, every frame could be a picture within its own right. One aspect of the visuals that I particularly admired was how abstract it was, for the reason that it alienates it’s audience. Now, this may seem like an odd reason. But the fact that you are given the opportunity to witness these parties, cityscapes and houses of magnificent proportions that are so unachievable to the average citizen of Medway is rather exciting, really. However….though for the majority of the film, the visuals work hand in hand with the narrative, there are several points in which it serves more as a distraction than an aid. I particularly felt this at any point the characters were driving anywhere. The film went from cool and sophisticated to what looked like a parody of Fast and Furious. It was mental. The camera was ‘artistically’ shaky, and the voices didn’t match up the character’s lips, a pet peeve of mine. In fact, that wasn’t the only time the characters magically turned into ventriloquists. I’m not a fan of overtly over-dubbing the actor’s voices, but in some cases, it just looked ridiculous. Perhaps a dreamlike quality was trying to be achieved, but instead it just left me confused and frustrated. Finally, I felt that was a slight negligence of continuity. This isn’t a huge downside to the film, but it just makes you ponder the effort and work time that’s been put in; if you’ve worked on a film for several months, trying to achieve an experience, not just a film, why fall at the last hurdle and make the characters seemingly transport down stairs. I mean…I know they are rich, but they aren’t above using stairs. Plus, it’s the 20s. Don’t be so ridiculous.
Branching off from visuals, it is definitely worth noting the costume of the film. Oh man. If only I could own all the dresses AND suits that are worn. Daisy’s (Carey Mulligan) entrance dress is so gorgeous, and just heightens her cute, petite frame; she really is adorable. And I’m pretty sure that the only bloke who can pull off a pink three piece suit is the ever brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s portrayal of Jay Gatsby, in my eyes, is almost spot on. His style is painfully effortless, or so it seems, as if he literally just waltzes out of bed and – awp – he’s already dressed immaculately. How dare he.
Speaking of actors, the performances of all involved were brilliant, though not without fault. Because I don’t know the story of The Great Gatbsy so well, I was confused at the hybrid of accents Gatsby appeared to have, and although he is supposed to be ‘posh’, he neglected almost every single time the ‘t’ from ‘old sport’, which just plain confused me. Whether this was intentional though, I am not sure of. Elizabeth Debicki, who appears to have only been in one previous film did amazingly as Jordan Baker, as did Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, who even manipulated me into thinking he was a good guy. As it stands though, I’m still not entirely sure whether you’re supposed to like Tom or not. It would appear I was partially confused throughout a large amount of this film…
Finally, I can’t miss out the soundtrack, which is absolutely amazing. It’s slightly jolting at first when you’re presented with a 20s party where everyone is dancing to the likes of Will.I.Am and Fergie, but it certainly worked in creating an amazing party atmosphere. The most poignant song of the film however, that still gives me chills every single time I listen to it is Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey. Now, this is not the first time that I will admit that I am not a Lana fan, but this song seemed to just strike a particular cord right in the core of my soul. I was so moved by it and how well it mixed with the situations it’s used in through out the films, that on listening to it outside of the film, well…I teared up. A lot. But we’ll keep that on the low down. At one point, it is blended beautifully with one of my favourite songs, Hearts a Mess by Gotye, which just worked so well. Everything from the lyrics to the tune pictures beautifully the tragic undertones and heartbreak of the film whilst at the same time demonstrating the undying love of soul mates. What else can I say; it’s perfect. There’s a moment in the film where a 20s salon version of the song can be heard in the background, which I found the instrumental of on youtube; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZicNQfBXBXs It just lends the song a whole new dynamic.
To close, The Great Gatsby is a wonderful film in terms of escapism. It’s worth the 142mins running time when you leave with your mind blown. However, on second viewing, more faults are apparent and some cracks can be seen in the seemingly perfect illusion of the Gatsby world. This doesn’t stop the film from being a must-see in terms of experience, and if you’re familiar with the works of Baz Lurhmann, you shan’t be disappointed. Now, get yourself a copy of the soundtrack, and get listening, old sport.