Movie Review: The Great Gatsby ~ Then & Now

**********SPOILER ALERT**********
I warned you

In 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a book about the very rich and mysterious Jay Gatsby.  Nick Carraway is a young man living in West Egg, Long Island, who has come to spend the summer working and visiting with his cousin Daisy Buchanan (who's husband Tom is a cheating bastard). He tells us of his encounter with Jay Gatsby.  We learn that Gatsby and Daisy knew each other some time ago and were very much in love.  Some would say it's a love story. 

This past month the book club I'm in, Literary Lushes, read The Great Gatsby in preparation for Baz Luhrmann's new flick.  You may have heard me say this already, but I LOVED THE BOOK!!!  I did not expect to love it.  It completely caught me off guard.  I thought it was going to be a dull book that I would have to force myself to read.  It has action, drama, and mystery to it.  Once I got into it I sailed right through.  I would definitely read it again.  The storytelling was so wonderful.  I really felt like I was part of their world.

This year Baz Luhrmann directed his own version of The Great Gatsby starring my husband Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby

Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan

Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway

The movie opened in theaters on May 10th and I immediately saw it opening weekend.  It was perfect!  It was everything that I hoped it would be.  Baz Luhrmann always does an amazing job with his films.  The vibrant colors, the music, the costumes, sets, and the actors chosen.  This film was cast so wonderfully.  Myrtle, played by Isla Fisher, was exactly how I pictured her.  She was the perfect mix of glam and tramp!

Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson

In the book you can really tell how lonely Jay Gatsby is.  Nick comes home one night from being out and finds Gatsby waiting outside his house.  Gatsby suggests a quick drive to Coney Island or a dip in his swimming pool.  It's awfully late and Nick say he's got to go home.  Leonardo DiCaprio was so great and showing us that loneliness.  It was so sad.  I wanted to jump in the film and just chill with him by the pool.  When Nick does Gatsby a favor, by having Daisy over for tea, you can tell how important it is to him.  Gatsby gets the yard done up, flowers sent over, and cakes delivered for tea.  It's pouring down rain, but he still shows up looking sharp in his white suit.  The closer it gets to Daisy's arrival the more nervous Gatsby gets.  Four O'Clock hits and Daisy's at the door.  It's almost like time has stopped and these two lovers are thrown back together.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan are magical together.  Their chemistry together is so on that I could feel the heat from my seat.  The amount of love that Gatsby has for Daisy is so surmountable.  Everything he has done has been for her.  If only she could have seen that and understood.  It breaks my heart they way things turn out for him.

I was having an interesting conversation with my mother yesterday.  See, we have this lovely lady that's a good friend and neighbor..her name is Judy.  Judy loves the Robert Redford version of The Great Gatsby and could not imagine another being made.  So, I decided to watch it.

Mia Farrow (Daisy) & Robert Redford (Gatsby)

I hated it.
Okay, hate is a strong word.  I really did not like the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby.  Yes, Robert Redford is handsome, but I felt nothing from his performance.  There is no sense of loneliness or longing from his portrayal as Jay Gatsby.  He's just a pretty face.  Oh yeah, he sweats a lot too.  All the way through the movie.  There's a makeup artist out there somewhere who got fired!  There are several scenes in the '74 film that are not properly done.  Here are just a few examples ~
1. The first party that Nick attends at Gatsby's house, he ends up having accidental conversation with Gatsby (book and 2013 film).  In the '74 film one of Gatsby's servants pulls Nick out of the party and into a private room so they can talk.  Gatsby is supposed to pull Jordan away, not Nick.  
2.  It's bright and sunny outside the day that Daisy comes to tea.  It's supposed to be raining.  There's an actual point to the rain.
3.  In the '74 version I actually feel sorry for George Wilson after what happens to his wife.  He seems like a nice guy, just down on his luck.  In the '13 version he's a nasty wife abusing man (the way he's supposed to be in the book as well).
Come on, man, I thought you could act!  Aren't you one of the classic actors of your time?

There are two things that the '74 version did get right that the '13 version didn't.  That was how George Wilson found Jay Gatsby and how Gatsby died (I told you there were spoilers).  However, I actually liked Gatsby's death scene better in Baz Luhrmann's interpretation.  If there's one thing Leo is good at in a movie that's dying (Quick and the Dead, Romeo & Juliet, Titanic, The Departed, Blood Diamond, Inception, Django Unchained).

I give Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 The Great Gatsby 2 stars.
I give Baz Luhrmann's 2013 The Great Gatsby 5 stars.

The Award goes to...

(aka...the Susan Lucci of the Oscars)

Here's to you Old Sport