The Great Gatsby

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nick Carraway, a Yale University graduate and World War I veteran, is staying in a sanatorium to treat his alcoholism. He talks about a man named Gatsby, describing him as the most hopeful man he had ever met. When he struggles to articulate his thoughts, his doctor, Walter Perkins, suggests writing it down, since writing is Nick’s true passion.

In the summer of 1922, Nick moves from the U.S. Midwest to New York, where he takes a job as a bond salesman after giving up on writing. He rents a small house on Long Island in the (fictional) village of West Egg, next door to the lavish mansion of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious business magnate who holds extravagant parties. Nick drives across the bay to East Egg for dinner at the home of his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, a college acquaintance of Nick’s. They introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, a cynical young golfer with whom Daisy wishes to couple Nick.

Jordan reveals to Nick that Tom has a mistress who lives in the “valley of ashes,” an industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels with Tom to the valley, where they stop by a garage owned by George Wilson and his wife, Myrtle, who is Tom’s lover that Jordan mentioned. Nick goes with Tom and Myrtle to an apartment that they keep for their affair, where Myrtle throws a vulgar and bizarre party with her sister Catherine, that ends with Tom breaking Myrtle’s nose as she taunts him about Daisy.

As the summer progresses, Nick receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. Upon arriving, he learns that none of the guests at the party, though there are hundreds, have ever met Gatsby himself, and they have developed multiple theories as to who he is: A German spy, a prince, even an assassin. Nick encounters Jordan, and they meet Gatsby, who is surprisingly young and rather aloof, in person. Towards the end of the party, Gatsby’s butler informs Jordan that Gatsby wishes to speak with her privately.

Gatsby seems to take a liking to Nick, inviting him out for numerous occasions. Their friendship furthers when Gatsby takes Nick out to lunch with his friend Meyer Wolfshiem, a gambler who fixed the 1919 World Series, where Nick learns that Gatsby was born to very wealthy people that have already passed away. During the lunch, they run into Tom, Gatsby appearing uncomfortable throughout the exchange. Through Jordan, Nick later learns that Gatsby had a relationship with Daisy in 1917, and is still madly in love with her, throwing his extravagant and wild parties in the hopes that she will one day appear at his doorstep. On most nights, he can be seen reaching out across the bay to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He now wants Nick to arrange a reunion between him and Daisy. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will be there as well.

After a rather awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy begin an affair. Gatsby is rather dismayed to learn that Daisy wants to run away from New York with him, his initial plan being for them to live in his mansion. Nick tries to explain to Gatsby that the past cannot be repeated, but he dismisses the remark, claiming that it most certainly can be. Trying to keep the affair a secret, he fires a majority of his servants and discontinues the parties. Eventually, he phones Nick and ask that he and Jordan accompany him to the Buchanans’, where they plan to tell Tom that Daisy is leaving him. Nick is hesitant at first, but Gatsby insists that they need him.

During the luncheon, Tom becomes increasingly suspicious of Gatsby when he sees him staring at Daisy with such passion. Gatsby begins to announce their love when Daisy stops him, and suggests they all go into town. Everyone leaves for the Plaza, Tom driving Gatsby’s car with Nick and Jordan while Gatsby and Daisy take Tom’s car. Out of gas, Tom stops at George and Myrtle’s garage, where George tells him he plans to move him and wife out west, much to Tom’s concern.

At the Plaza, Gatsby finally tells Tom that he and Daisy are together, claiming that she never loved him. Outraged, Tom begins to accuse Gatsby of bootlegging alcohol and conducting other illegal endeavors with Meyer Wolfshiem, explaining how Gatsby earned so much money. Pushed to his breaking point, Gatsby screams in rage at Tom, frightening Daisy. She asks to leave and goes with Gatsby, this time in his car. Nick realizes that it is his thirtieth birthday.

Later that night, Myrtle manages to flee from her husband, rushing out onto the street. She sees Gatsby’s yellow car approaching and runs toward it, believing the driver to be Tom after seeing him in the same car earlier. She is struck and killed. Afterwards, Tom, Nick, and Jordan stop by the garage when they see a large crowd has gathered. There, they learn of Myrtle’s death. Tom tells George, her widowed husband, that the yellow car belongs to Gatsby.

When they get back to East Egg, Nick finds Gatsby lingering outside the Buchanans’ mansion, where Gatsby reveals that Daisy had been the one who was driving, though he intends to take the blame. In spite of everything, Gatsby is convinced that Daisy will call him the next day. At Gatsby’s mansion, he also tells Nick that he was born penniless, and his real name is James Gatz. In the morning, Nick leaves for work while Gatsby decides to go for a swim before his pool is drained for the season. While swimming, he hears the phone ring, and believes it to be Daisy. He climbs out of the pool while his butler answers the call, looking out across the bay at Daisy’s house with anticipation. He is abruptly shot and killed by George, who then turns the gun on himself. It is revealed that it is Nick on the phone, who stays on the line long enough to hear the two gunshots.

When Nick calls the Buchanans to invite Daisy to Gatsby’s funeral, he learns that she, Tom, and their daughter are leaving New York. The funeral is attended only by reporters and photographers, who Nick angrily chases out. The media accuses Gatsby of being the lover and eventual murderer of Myrtle, leaving Nick as the only one who knows the truth. Disgusted with both the city and its people, he leaves New York. He takes a final walk through Gatsby’s deserted mansion, standing out on the dock for the last time. Back in the sanatorium, he finishes his memoir and titles it “Gatsby”, but not long before adding to it with pen, ultimately titling it “The Great Gatsby”.

REVIEW:

One of the best known works of American literature is The Great Gatsby. Baz Lurhman has taken the immortal story and giving it his own unique style. We’ve seen his genius at work before in Moulin Rouge, but will that work with more serious material?

What is this about?

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as literary icon Jay Gatsby in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. Fascinated by the mysterious, affluent Gatsby, his neighbor Nick Carraway bears witness to the man’s obsessive love and spiral into tragedy

What did I like?

Casting. Back in the 20s, beauty wasn’t the same as it is today, or even in the 30s and 40s. Every now and then there are some in Hollywood that have that classic look. Carey Mulligan perfectly embodies that waif-like, beautiful flapper look that was the standard of beauty. Also, Leonard DiCaprio has that look that was popular among males, but he seems to be able to pull off that look no matter what he’s in, especially these period pieces.

When to say when. Director Lurhman was smart enough to make sure that his style is seen, but not overdone. I believe many thought this was going to end being a spiritual sequel to Moulin Rouge, which it isn’t. Sure, the beginning has that style and you kind of get the feeling that Tobey Macguire’s character is filling the role of Ewan McGregor, but eventually, that style is tossed by the wayside and we get into more of a serious drama. Fret not, though, we do get some visually stunning scenes as the film progresses.

Changes. I’m not too familiar with this novel, having not read it, but I can say with confidence that things were changed. Did those changes affect the story and/or stick out as added material? I can’t say for certain, but it doesn’t seem that way to me. People that actually have knowledge of the book may feel differently, however.

What didn’t I like?

Isla. We can all agree that Isla Fisher is a gorgeous creature, I think. For whatever reason, though, they decided to ugly her up to unrecognizable levels. If this was done so she can get attention as a serious actress, that’s fine, but she’s on-screen for maybe a total o 5 minutes, including her time as a dead body!

Shift. It is my understanding that this is a pretty serious novel, so why am I so shocked that the film goes that route once it gets its footing? I can’t really tell you. Perhaps it is because the trailers and advertisements made this film seem so fun and lighthearted, you would never expect it to be so heavy.

Music.  *SIGH* Where do I begin with this one? How about I ponder the rationale for putting rap music in a film set in the 20s. WTF?!? Let me make this point clear. I don’t hate rap, although it isn’t my cup of tea, but it really had no place here. In Django Unchained, they randomly insert rap songs and it didn’t work there, either. Granted, this could have been just about any genre and it wouldn’t have worked for this film, but they took a slightly newer song, Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love”, gave it the 20s sound, and it works! Why is it that whenever rappers are given the undeserving honor of producing film soundtracks they feel they have to make it modern? What is about this film makes you think anything is modern? As far as the non-rap music that actually was a part of tis time period, I applaud them for choosing, as I do with the Beyoncé chart, everything else was just so badly misplaced, that is seriously affects my rating!

When The Great Gatsby was released in theaters, I chose not to see it, but my good friend Sarah told me I should. Scheduling didn’t allow for that to happen, but I am actually glad I chose to add this to Netflix (originally I wasn’t going to). Contrary to what some may say, this is actually a really good film. I question the fact that it was released in the summer, as it plays like it could be a contender for award season, as opposed to a summer blockbuster. All that said, I surprisingly enjoyed this picture and, music rant notwithstanding, I highly recommend it, so check it out!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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