Picoreview: The Great Gatsby

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Picoreview: The Great Gatsby: It was all right.

I didn’t go in with expectations of it being fantastic because reviews suggested it wasn’t. I thought it was better, perhaps, than many of the reviews did; I thought the cast, with the glaring exception of Tobey Maguire, were quite terrific. DiCaprio’s moments of fear and vulnerability where he thinks he might get found out are very nice, and he charms well when he’s supposed to. There’s one scene where he’s messing about and being youthful and joyous and looks like he’s about fifteen, which image, since I just watched Romeo+Juliet, is fresh in my mind. So he was lovely in it.

Carey Mulligan, whom I like a lot, was appealing as Daisy, and Joel Edgerton, who was not previously on my radar, surprised me enormously as Daisy’s husband. So the leads were largely very good. I find Maguire to have roughly the emotional range of a fence post and to be marginally less interesting on screen than watching paint dry, and in this he did not disappoint.

The costuming is also beautiful, as one expects from Baz Lurhmann. Unfortunately, I think his choreographer is the same one, and there was a dance move very (very) early on that was also used in Moulin RogueRouge, and I found it hugely distracting. Like, I went, “Oh, come on,” and spent the rest of the movie looking for/expecting more of that kind of thing. This would not, I suspect, be a problem for 99.999% of viewers, but it’s not the first time that kind of thing has ripped me out of a film.

Also in Luhrmann tradition is the framing device/voiceover. I haven’t read the book in so long I don’t remember if Nick provides a framing device in it, so I don’t know if that’s Luhrmann or the book. Doesn’t matter; it by and large works, with one absolutely beautiful moment at the end of the film that kind of pays it all off even if it didn’t more or less work already.

Somehow it’s not as…outrageous a film…as either Moulin Rouge or Romeo+Juliet, and I think that’s why it falls down. The rich, sumptous, overblown worlds shown in the other two movies are–well, I mean, they’re supposed to be shown as a false front in Gatsby; they’re supposed to be shallow and uncaring. But I think it was too much glittery surface, and Maguire as Nick, who is supposed to be the story’s heart and conscience, could not bring enough depth to either Carraway or Gatsby to make an okay film into a great one.