I didn’t hate it. In fact, if there was one word that resonated in the hours immediately following the viewing (the tell-tale time that determines how a movie will fare in my mind), it was ‘haunting.’ Not in a glowing-review type of way, but in a sadder, dimmer, colder version of the novel. It dawned on me upon seeing the physical embodiment of all that sumptuous excess: if Gatsby can’t make a successful go of it, what hope do the rest of us have?
Was the movie as good as the book? Not nearly. This was no surprise. The book is untouchable. The prose propels the narrative, and to try to attain an approximation of the magic of Fitzgerald’s human commentary is a doomed venture. Director Baz Luhrman instead, and wisely, opts for his own brand of flash and spectacle, bringing the decadence of that time period to thrilling, colorful, larger-than-sound-stage life. Is it a case of style over substance? A little. Well, a lot, but viewers who know the book will not need excessive exposition.
A few people will no doubt hate the movie – it’s not for everyone, and unless you’re willing to jump into this long-gone world, suspend your jaded beliefs, and indulge in the journey at hand, don’t bother – you’ll only be infuriated. But if you let it wash over you like the sheerest of drapes in a summer breeze, you’ll find something wondrous about it. Mr. Luhrman has done what Gatsby himself did – create an over-the-top experience – a party that ran deep into the night. But what Gatsby couldn’t fathom – and steadfastly refused to accept – was that all parties come to an end. It was that belief in the possible – and Luhrman’s fervid hope – that captured my imagination.Back to Blog