Yes, I finally went to see it. Yes, I even sprang for the 3-D version. I run a full service blog here.
tl,dr: Wait for it on cable.
- This is a highly personal reaction, influenced by a lot of things. In particular, I think I have a weakness for 1920′s era flapper outfits. But Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan are both just…wow. I don’t know how I can put it without lapsing into the vulgar. Perhaps I should just say I would be delighted to take either one (or both) of them out for a cheeseburger and the amusing house red. Indeed, one of the reasons I wanted to post this is so I could link to photos of both young ladies. Ms. Debicki:
and Ms. Mulligan:
- Tobey Maguire did not work for me as Nick Carraway. I felt that he exhibited a limited emotional range: either vaguely petulant or slightly baffled. When he did try to express happiness or friendship, he seemed stiff.
- Jay Z’s music was…well, let me be polite and say simply “not memorable”.
- The 3-D does not add much to the movie. There are a few neat tricks (the closing credits in particular are kind of trippy in a geometric sort of way), but I don’t believe you’ll miss anything if you stick with 2-D.
- There were more than a few CG shots in the movie that were so poorly done and so obviously CG that they took me out of the movie. Luckily, all I had to do was wait for Ms. Debicki or Ms. Mulligan to come back on screen…
- Other than the bad CG, though, there is a lot of lush and beautiful photography in the movie. It is pretty to look at…
- …but ultimately empty. I think the biggest failure of the movie isn’t in conveying Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy; that comes across just fine. The point that I think Baz Luhrmann missed (along with Craig Pearce, the other credited screenwriter) is that Daisy is an unworthy vessel for Gatsby’s affection. Tom and Daisy are empty, shallow, vain people. Gatsby’s death isn’t the tragedy; the true tragedy is that he brings about his own end through his pursuit of Daisy, and that Daisy isn’t worth it. Luhrmann fails to develop Daisy in such a way that we’re able to see this. Towards the end of the movie, Maguire in his voiceover quotes the classic line about Tom and Daisy being “careless people“, but reading the words isn’t the same as demonstrating this to us.
I’m glad I went: it was, after all, a nice afternoon out at a nice theater. But I can’t recommend purchasing a ticket until The Great Gatsby comes to cable or the discount theater nearest you.