365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


The Great Gatsby (2013)

To say that Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Departed) killed it 2013 would be an understatement. Prior to his Academy Award nominating role as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio portrayed Jay Gatsby, one of the most legendary characters in literary history, in a most sincere an intense way. It was a performance that F Scott Fitzgerald himself would be proud of and would almost make him forget all of the other sub par attempts to recreate his work of fiction that almost all of us have read in high school.

There is a reason that DiCaprio is the number one leading man in Hollywood. Even in his movies that have fizzled (most notably J. Edgar, The Man in the Iron Mask, and The Beach) with the critics and at the box office, the performances of DiCaprio still make the movie worth watching. He brings his "A" game to every thing he does and his portrayal of a character that all of us have enriched in our brains, but who all of us might see a little differently due to the images we create of him through our imaginations while reading the novel is nothing short of brilliant. He presents a vulnerability to the Gatsby character that I don't recall from the novel (which I have read at least twice). I have every intention of reading this novel again this year and DiCaprio's performance is the main reason why. I want to read each scene with the vision of DiCaprio's Gatsby in my head. I want to see if I underestimated the novel because as I'm sitting her watching Baz Luhrmann version for the second time in two days, I'm wondering how I can love the film so much and have so little love for the book. Either I wasn't paying enough attention to the novel or DiCaprio, Luhrmann, the other amazing talents in the movie, and/or the stunning visuals and beautiful music have allowed me to see past a novel that I thought was a tad on the boring side and took me to a place where the story came to life and my heart started to break for each of the book's three main protagonists.

First of all, I will admit that I thought there would be no chance that I would ever like this movie. I remember when I saw the preview for the first time and heard music by Jay-Z playing in the background and wondered what, exactly, they were trying to do. Was this another attempt to do Romeo & Juliet in present day California? Ironically, Luhrmann directed this version of the Shakespearean play as well. It was also a version that I thought I was going to hate, but ended up liking a lot. Back to The Great Gatsby though. I thought I would never see the movie based on the music alone. It's supposed to be 1922. Everything is set to be 1922 except for the music. Instead we have will.i.am. I thought I was going to HATE it. I wasn't even willing to give it a chance. And I do know that even after seeing the film, a lot of people felt the same way. After some initial hesitation, the music won me over and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

DiCaprio killed it as Gatsby. At first I wondered what he was doing wasting his time on a movie that had already been made four other times. The movie-going audience wasn't calling for a remake. It seemed like there wasn't much reward even if the movie was great. Likewise there was an even greater potential for it to get slammed and have critics and moviegoers saying just that "Why?" Well the movie didn't score very high with the critics (49%) and only made $144 million domestically (although it did make another $206 million worldwide). This movie was, by far, a smashing success. In fact, its release date had been delayed for 6+ months and it had to be rebooted with all new trailers. Nonetheless, it was successful with me. In addition to Gatsby, Carey Mulligan (Shame, Drive) was amazing as the fragile and emotionally torn Daisy Buchanan. Likewise, Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Zero Dark Thirty) is nearly unidentifiable as the arrogant antagonist Tom Buchanan. And certainly not to be lost is Tobey Maguire's (Spider-ManBrothersportrayal of Nick Carraway, the impressionable young man who quickly took a liking to Gatsby and soon wanted nothing more than to see his new friend (the most hopeful man he ever met) happy.

And while the performances were top notch, it was the visuals that made the movie. If not for Gravity, this would be the most stunningly beautiful movie of the year. Each scene is so bright and vibrant. The costumes are magnificent. When I imagine The Roaring 20's, this is how I would envision it, with everyone partying and so full of life. It really comes to the forefront here.

So with the combination of bringing a classic to screen in a way previously not scene, the incredible acting, the music, and the visuals, I don't think this is a movie to be missed. Hopefully this will be the version that students watch in high school after completing their reading of the novel. It's a great, great movie.

Plot 9.5/10
Character Development 9.5/10
Character Chemistry 9/10
Acting 10/10
Screenplay 10/10
Directing  9/10
Cinematography 10/10
Sound 9.5/10
Hook and Reel 9/10
Universal Relevance 9/10


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