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THE GREAT GATSBY

THE GREAT GATSBY

F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940,  at the age of forty-four: impoverished, never to know the immensity of the literary legacy that continues to enthrall, captivate and hypnotize readers and movie audiences seventy-three -years after his premature passing.

Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the iconic classic is a stylized, gaudy, formulaic extravaganza of mythic proportions; palaces of Disneyland size and style; glitz galore, million- dollar parties swathed in fountains of champagne, divine divas, charismatic charlatans (“Meyer Wolfsheim”, Bollywood’s own icon, Amitabh Bachchan) and “all that rap”. Filmed in 3-D, viewers are intimately sucked into exacerbated magnificence, swirling opulence, delightful, dizzying decadence of pre-tax years; it is 1922, WWI is a memory, the stock market is experiencing a meteoric ascent; life is lived passionately, excessively one breathless, inebriated day at a time.

“Jay Gatsby” of all Fitzgerald’s protagonists, encompasses the author’s insecurities, misplaced ideals, goals; yet remains  enigmatic, romantic, spiritually naive; for his vast wealth and conniving stealth, it is his purity, especially his love for “Daisy” that seals our empathy, eventual sympathy. Leonardo DiCaprio is positively sublime as the disillusioned pillar of colossal wealth; his physical perfection, matched by his profound understanding of “Gatsby” grow exponentially with each scene; Gatsby’s tragic flaw was not recognizing his uniqueness, “greatness”, blinded by the monetary entitlement of those he sought to emulate; DiCaprio’s interpretation, captures Fitzgerald’s intent.

Fortunately, “Nick Carraway” Gatsby’s neighbor and narrator of the tale, seeks and yearns to know the man hiding behind the tableau; he is “Daisy’s” cousin and a bridge to Jay and Daisy reconnecting after a five -year hiatus. Wide-eyed Tobey Maguire gives a solid performance as a sycophant evolving into a friend,  a biographer.

“Daisy Buchanan” (an abhorrent, duplicitous character) Gatsby’s muse, and “Tom Buchanan’s” (terrifically portrayed by Joel Edgerton) wife, is depicted by the fine English actress, Carey Mulligan; Daisy is one of the most problematic of Fitzgerald’s creations, a metaphor for inherited money but actually, in the words of Gertrude Stein, “there’s no there, there” (or in this case “their”). Mulligan does as well as possible depicting this rich, spoiled, spineless twit.

“The Great Gatsby” is flawed, too heavy on theatrics, but the message is prolifically alive today, as in the past; there will always be those who define themselves by the DNA sloshing through their veins; by the might of their purchasing power; likewise, they will always be hollow vessels, lacking gravity,  simply “sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!

For Now………..Peneflix

F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940,  at the age of forty-four: impoverished, never to know the immensity of the literary legacy that continues to enthrall, captivate and hypnotize readers and movie audiences seventy-three -years after his premature passing. Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the iconic classic is a stylized, gaudy, formulaic extravaganza of mythic proportions; palaces …

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15 comments

  1. Hi Penelope, can’t wait to see this — my brother Greg Groom works for WB so I’ve been following the progress (and the publicity campaign!)
    Hope our paths cross soon,
    Gloria

    • I am in a minority but found it compelling, especially DiCaprio’s interpretation! Thank you, dear Gloria! P.

  2. Great review, Peneflix! I am looking forward to seeing the film.

  3. Buttressed by Times, New Yorker, and your review, how can I not see it. But, why 3-D? It’s already a hyper, exaggerated, feverish period, bookended by World Wars I & II. Is a musical next?
    I remember our annual trip to Newport where the Robert Redford version was being filmed…we only had to be willing to stay up all night to have parts as extras. Sleep trumped party.

    • Twenty-first century; lots of digitalization; most likely too “camp” for you and Robert; it was a “romp” and I loved the ride. Your comments, always right on!Thanks, P.

  4. Phew! I was so worried you weren’t going to like it.

    • I was in the mood for an over-the-top extravaganza: and was positively satiated. Thanks dear “Penefan”!

  5. My two girlfriends and I are in the minority regarding this film. We found it a waste of time and interminable. Thanks Peneflix for all your wonderful reviews.

    • Actually, you are in the majority!!!!!!!! I am fairly alone, but it grabbed me from the first moment, and never let go. The Wall Street Journal, HATED it!. Thanks for commenting! P.

  6. thanks for another penetrating insightful review . i shall now see Gatsby ( which, based on other reviews,i was planning to skip ) with your thoughtful interpretation to expand my understanding.
    many thanks

    • Remember the times! Women just given the right to vote; freedom of the 20’s is so much apart of Fitzgerald’s writings; one of the reasons Luhrmann’s explosion of excess was so pivotal to the film; his over-the-top, in-your-face 3D was, im my opinion, tremendously successful. Enjoy and let me know what you think! P.

  7. Hi Pen- if anyone can carry off the character of Gatsby , DeCaprio can.
    I thought your review

  8. We saw the movie in 3D even though we planned to see the regular version. (we found out the regular version had captions at that showing) We really enjoyed the movie and the 3D version. It was over the top but exciting. The two and a half hour movie seemed to fly by. The story still resonates today. I want to reread the novel.

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