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'The Great Gatsby' review

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The Great Gatsby

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The newest The Great Gatsby movie adaptation fails to capture the brilliant subtlety of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, though it's a pretty accurate representation of his famous '20s-era novel. While it's true to the basic story and characters, it fails to capture the intricacies and art of Fitzgerald's writing.

Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet) wrote and directed The Great Gatsby, and those familiar with his work will expect something outside the box. Strange as it sounds, this The Great Gatsby film version might have been better with the typical "Luhrmann" in-your-face treatment. Unfortunately, his movie loses the subtleties of character that make the book so compelling and so ends up being on the boring side. Plus, there's not enough of his trademake craziness to make up for the characters' lack of life, and the result is a rather pendantic film that misses the mark on two counts.

I don't have much too criticize about the acting, as Leonardo DiCaprio does a solid job as Gatsby and supporting actors Tobey Maguire, Isla Fisher, and Carey Mulligan all pulled their weight. My complaint is with the casting.

Maguire's Nick Carraway (narrator and sort of main character) is almost a non-entity. Isla Fisher seemed strangely cast as the obnoxiously cheap Myrtle, and as much as I like Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go) she was no Daisy. Her characterization seemed much too sensitive and overt to match Fitgerald's Daisy (a creature of many layers, many of them unnatractive).

Fitzgerald's book is a tantalizing peek into the hedonistic world of the roaring '20s, while it is also a sensitive and subtle character study. The latter part of this magic formula (and one which has made The Great Gatsby an enduring neo classic) is sadly lost in Luhrmann's version. And while there is an opportunity for some effective Moulin Rouge-esque musical choas, Luhrmann seems to have pulled his punches in favor or a more meditative (read slow, at least comparatively) story telling process.

It wasn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it didn't make the characters come alive and thus presented a rather lifeless version of this iconic story. The musical aspects of the film were compelling, and of course some of the visuals had the high stylization we expect from Luhrmann, but overall The Great Gatsby failed to even overtake the very solid Robert Redford-starring 1974 version. So I guess my advice is, if you're going to watch a movie version of this story (instead of reading the novel), check out the 1974 version!

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