Things I hate more than the new “Gatsby:”
4. Country Music
No, I’m serious. It’s that bad.
Whatever film I just paid $10+ for was not Gatsby. I don’t know what that weird mixture of Titanic and Spiderman was but it was not Fitzgerald. Luhrmann did you even read The Great Gatsby? There’s no way you did because whatever this so-called “adaptation” of Fitzgerald’s brilliant novel is… it’s not Gatsby.
Instead of the suave, handsome but reclusive Gatsby as we get in the novel, we are given a bumbling, idiotic, but still handsome, over tanned person. There is no sign of the Gatsby with “one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it.” Or did I miss it? Was that unsure and faltering smirk Leo gives the camera as fireworks blast off in the background supposed to be this aforementioned smile that resulted in the person on the receiving end of it to feel as though the bearer of this smile had “an irresistible prejudice in your favor.” I hope not because that sad excuse for a “smile” did not make me feel that way at all.
And what the hell is up with this portrayal of Nick? I had my own reservations about the casting of this part from the very beginning but I must say that Spiderman did an excellent job of surpassing my expectations in terms of being even more disappointing than I ever imagined. I understand that people have different interpretations of novels, poems, movies, stories, songs, etc. but I’m almost positive that there is no interpretation of the novel that illustrated Nick as being better than Gatsby. Maybe I’m just prejudiced towards Nick because I’ve never liked any version of him. I wasn’t a big fan of him in the novel and I’m even less of a fan of him now because now every time I picture Nick Carraway I will be picturing Seabiscuit’s jockey acting like an idiot among pretty people. And where is Nick’s sarcasm in the “film?” That’s one of the only things I appreciated about his character- his sarcasm. While yeah, same lines as in the novel, there was no sarcasm attached to them. He just came across as stupid. Nick, go home, you’re drunk.
Daisy, Daisy, Daisy. WHO ARE YOU? Did Luhrmann honestly forget one of the most important character lessons we learned from the novel? Someone obviously didn’t even read Sparknotes in 10th grade. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” Basically for those of you who still don’t understand what Fitzgerald was saying about Daisy and Tom (LUHRMANN I’M TALKING TO YOU)… Daisy and Tom are the worst. They get their kicks and then leave before things get messy. They don’t care about others and simply use them for their own instant gratification. This Daisy was not in the movie I saw. The Daisy in Luhrmann’s Gatsby is portrayed as this fragile girl who is unaware of what she is doing. But that isn’t Daisy. You see, Daisy and Tom are lumped together at the end. Tom was actually pretty decently portrayed in the movie, a little over the top, yes, but you still got the bad vibe from him. Where’s the bad vibe from Daisy? Instead of a smasher she is portrayed as someone who is unaware of what she is doing. But that’s not how Fitzgerald created her.
Maybe if I didn’t feel such a strong feeling of protectiveness over Fitzgerald and more specifically towards his Gatsby I would have enjoyed the movie. But now I’ll never know. And I also seriously doubt it. Luhrmann’s Gatsby was what I picture it would be like to visit Disney World on acid but only going on the It’s A Small World Ride and Splash Mountain or something. I don’t know. Maybe the movie got better by the end? I wouldn’t know because I left before the movie was even close to being over which was too late in my opinion. And whatever damage is done in seriously, the first 5 minutes, could never be undone.
I’ll try and keep Nick’s father’s words of wisdoms close to heart as I get through these next couple of days, weeks, months, years, trying to recover from this disaster that has caused me to not only think ill about a director I once admired and the creator of one of my favorite movies, Moulin Rouge, but that has also made me hate Spiderman. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone… just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” Not really sure what advantages I’ve had over Luhrmann except for a freshman year English course at a public high school which I highly doubt would be seen as an advantage. But whatever it is, I’m just glad I have lived to be able to warn anyone else who has read and appreciated not only The Great Gatsby but any literary work of merit not to see this movie. Like, ever probably. It’s offensive because not only does it not portray the characters correctly, it mocks them. While yes it does follow the plot line somewhat accurately, that doesn’t really matter. Although the book version will always be better than a movie version, I still have respect for a director who still manages to leave the audience with somewhat of the same feeling the book left them with. And Luhrmann completely missed the mark on that one. I don’t think, if he did actually read the book, that he took anything away from it other than the fantastical and over the top life that Gatsby created for him. And the fact that there was a green light. Not only was the upper class depicted as being hollow, so was everyone else. All I can hope is that Gatsby isn’t correct in his assumption that we can repeat the past. Because the hour and a half I spent in that movie is a memory I’d like to keep borne back in the past.
The only thing they managed to get right was the soundtrack. Although not really sure how I feel about it in conjunction with The Great Gatsby. Still a nice collection of songs. This being my favorite: