Tina Fey has a scar on her left cheek that she got when she was randomly slashed by a stranger while playing in her yard when she was five.
Baz Luhrmann portrays Fitzgerald’s tale of extravagance, lost love, and tasteless affairs in his adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which released on May 1st. While Director Luhrmann must understand that undertaking a movie adaptation of a well-known F. Scott Fitzgerald novel is no easy task, he did not shy away. In fact he dove in full force, adding 3D-effects and flamboyant music to what was a rather gentle and refined novel.
If there’s one thing that I would like to applaud Luhrmann’s movie on, it would have to be the brilliant casting. From Joel Edgerton playing the brute Tom Buchannan to Isla Fisher as his tacky mistress, the cast slipped comfortably into their roles. Tobey Maguire was perfect for the part of the narrator, the modest, respectable Nick Carraway, and Carey Mulligan captured the effortless yet enticing essence of Daisy Buchannan. Leonardo DiCaprio starred as Jay Gatsby, and as I’m sure he had no trouble playing a charming, glamorous billionaire, he makes it hard to imagine anyone else for the part. He portrayed Gatsby’s undying obsession with ease and his majesty was undeniable as the character developed throughout the story.
I must admit that Luhrmann colored pretty safely inside the storylines, respectably so, as it is a smart move not to veer too far from the author’s original plot. While Nick Carraway’s mental breakdown and subsequent stay at a mental hospital was an aspect merely nonexistent in the novel, the idea was an interesting way to provide the perspective from Carraway as well as display the tolls that Gatsby’s and Daisy’s trials had left on the character.
While keeping to the plot, however, Luhrmann embellished the visuals in every possible way. The strange zooming camera angles and overexertion of every movement distracted from the story, rather than adding to it. The ridiculous, speedy car scenes and over-the-top glitzy nonsense overwhelmed Fitzgerald’s classic brilliance in a feeble attempt to portray the flashy lifestyle of the upper-class; and while 3D may be rising as the new craze, for a classic story such as this one, sometimes it’s necessary to maintain the tone by excluding these tempting visual superfluities. It’s the same thing tasteful mothers and older sisters will tell young girls about applying make-up; sometimes less is more.
The soundtrack was a weak attempt to get in touch with modern society. While trying to portray the exciting, risqué edge of jazz music in the 20’s, Luhrmann introduces rap and hip-hop into the scenario. Modern day music just doesn’t promote the same cutting-edge feel that Luhrmann was going for, and it leaves the viewer feeling awkward and confused. When I watch a movie about the 1920’s, I personally want to feel transported back in time, but Luhrmann’s implementation of Jay-Z and Beyonce music render that impossible. Luhrmann should’ve trusted that the audience would be enticed by the dramatic lives of the characters rather than trying to lure them in with ill-fitting music.
As a fan of the classic novel, Luhrmann’s adaption left me confused and unsatisfied. Gaudy effects overcome the true substance of the acclaimed novel, and aside from the actors’ talents, the brilliance of Fitzgerald’s story is unmistakably lost in the overwhelming trivialities implemented by Luhrmann.
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