Film Review – The Great Gatsby (2013): Jordan’s Take


A review by Jordan


‘You can’t repeat the past’

You can’t repeat the past?’


‘Why of course you can!’

Damn. Does this mean that after The Great Gatsby there is a chance that Baz Luhrmann will be allowed yet another chance at directing a feature film when he has yet again proved his astounding incompetence in telling a coherent, textured, satisfying story and retreated once more to his ‘more is more’ method of amateurish filmmaking – having his audience sit dumbly; being forced to leave all logical thought at the ticket stand in anticipation of the nonsensical, often literary disgracing, audibly abusive self-indulgent mess of dull CGI images and poorly dubbed, amateurish American accents that is to come?

Due to the fact that it has astoundingly set alight the American and International box offices; unfortunately yes.

While I’m yet to read it, I’ve been informed by many reliable sources that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is one of the finest, and most important of all published in America; enchantingly depicting the rise and fall of an enigmatic dreamer whose refusal to let go of the hope that has fuelled his ascent into the stratosphere of the elite eventually dooms him to an end more befitting of the life he so wished to escape as a child. Perhaps I should never of seen Luhrmann’s film, which is more interested in depicting lavishly dull parties fuelled by inappropriate ‘music’ from such revered artists as Jay-Z, Andre 3000 and and a romance impossible to care about due to those involved being painted as nothing more than self-obsessed, egotistical socialites. In one particularly embarrassing scene our protagonists encounter a sports car filled with African American’s dirty dancing to blaring rap music whilst speeding across a packed bridge… in 1920’s New York… I’m aware that this is included in an attempt to translate the source material for a modern audience and showcase the glamour that accompanied the unbelievably rich, but for lack of a better word, it bitterly fails.

Perhaps the cast can at least go some way to redeeming this torrid mess you wonder? Not a chance. DiCaprio looks the part in his coral suits and high-waisted pants but his continuous staring through his creepily-lit tower window down at his next door neighbour does nothing for his likability, Carey Mulligan appears annoying at the best of times and not at all worth fighting for (especially with the undeniably lovely Jordan in the frame), Edgerton perhaps retains the most credibility and will avoid a Golden Raspberry nomination but struggles in his essential moments of confrontation and Maguire’s acting is equivalent to that of an unpopular year 12 drama student who somehow landed the lead role in the school’s play. As a positive, at least Vince Colosimo didn’t falter with his one line of dialogue, and (SPOILER ALERT) Isla Fisher played a very good dead person when her role commanded it.

When I see a movie, the first thing I look for is if the director is showing the audience enough respect through his/her techniques and filmic style to warrant the admission price. Recently I gave Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt a perfect 5 stars based on this method of observation; I can give Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby only 1, because never have I felt so utterly unappreciated as a paying cinema goer. Not only did Mr Luhrmann fail to provide an gripping plot, he failed at absolute fundamentals such as vocal dubbing in exterior shots and time lapse editing. He, and this movie, deserve every bit of critical negativity coming their way.

1 ‘Old Sport’ out of a Vocabulary.


16 responses to “Film Review – The Great Gatsby (2013): Jordan’s Take

  1. I see what you mean with the “dull CGI images”, it is one of my pet peeves! I still believe there are many ways to transmit an idea without CGI. Just like they managed to do it for so many years before!
    Besides, it makes the movies age faster too! Just like “300”… it just makes me cringe!

    • It seems that CGI can best be utilised when the film is Black and White, ala the great Sin City. That’s a film that will undoubtably be more timeless. (Jordan)

      • The book is a masterpiece. The way you describe the characters is pretty much the way they are in the book, but the way the book is written, you really feel for them. When Daisy dances around with Gatsby’s shirts, you really feel for her, it’s not a scene of frivolity. It’s a very melancholic book about trying to recapture a lost youth, and so much more. If Francis Ford Coppola at the height of his powers, and Robert Redford and Mia Farrow – two of the greatest American actors – couldn’t do it… Baz has no hope. I think, considering what he was up against, he did fairly well. Strictly Ballroom, for me, is still his best.

      • Yeah if I didn’t have a pile as high as the ceiling I’d get onto reading Gatsby, ha. Very true about Coppola as well… one adaption played it too safe, and the other too extreme.
        Oh, and Romeo + Juliet for me.

      • The First time I saw Romeo and Juliet I was overwhelmed, and though it was the most amazing film I ever watched. But the next time I watched it, it was like second day take-away Chinese. Still think that scene with the two kids looking through the aquarium is one of the most beautiful shot, though.

  2. Pingback: The Best and Worst of 2013: Jordan’s Take | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  3. This was such a waste. I’ve got nothing for Baz, but a big screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan should have been amazing. But the film completely revels in the excess of the novel without seeming to get that Fitzgerald was basically damning his characters as shallow and empty people who lived on status and nothing else. Like making an adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird and making it pro-racism. This coupled with the horrid CGI, 3D, excessive editing and terrible directing. And it’s also, for all its over the top qualities, really boring to watch. Agree with this post completely.

    • Yep, and I agree with those thoughts completely! The only cast member here that retained credibility in my opinion was Joel Edgerton… and that could be some Australian bias talking.

  4. I have to agree with you on some points. Especially the acting part was a bit disappointing. I thought it would be hard to be better than robert redford, but I think that Tobey Maguire wasn’t that bad. Of course it is hard to take roles from a Fitzgerald character. Like some others have commented, the characters are all quite shallow, even Gatsby, and especially Daisy. I also liked the exaggerated glamour and parties in the movie, since it was the only thing important to the characters in the book. This was something in which Luhrman succeeded since he is famous for his scenes in Moulin Rouge. Also the music was used well, although it was modern I liked how it had a counter function on the setting of the movie, just like Coppola did in Marie Antoinette.

    • It is unfortunately hard to like a movie with irredeemable characters (Raging Bull is amazing, but hard to re-watch), but that can be saved if an interesting and immersive plot is maintained; unfortunately though I just felt as though Lurhmann thought he could copy and paste his “style” here, maximize it by 200% and hire the world’s most famous actor and with a recognized title he would make the perfect film… he forgot to ever see this film from the audience’s viewpoint.
      But hey, I love the Resident Evil movies… so I’m not sure how much credibility I really have, ha.

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