Saturday, 1 June 2013

Film review: The Great Gatsby

No spoilers!

I've always wanted to read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald after studying The Beautiful and Damned during my English Literature degree, but only got around to reading it a few months ago. I really enjoyed the book and thought the narrative was captivating, even though the plot wasn't a tremendously gripping one in my opinion. The language is vivid and highly descriptive, and effortlessly transports the reader to the boom and culture of New York in the 1920s.

I was in two minds when I heard that The Great Gatsby was being released as a film. I'm never very fond of film adaptations of novels I've loved, and I didn't think the novel's enchanting narrative would come across effectively in a film. However, my doubts were soon erased when I went to see the film. Leonardo di Caprio is fantastic as Gatsby and doesn't look as if he's aged a day since starring in Titanic in 1997. Tobey Maguire also gives an inspired performance as Nick Carraway, magnified by the fact that I wasn't expecting much from him at all beforehand.

I was slightly disappointed by the film's characterisation of Jordan (Elizabeth Debicki) and Myrtle (Isla Fisher) as I thought they were portrayed to be much weaker and more trivial than they appear in the novel. I would argue that the film could have brought out their personalities much more dramatically in order to add another dimension and a more absorbing sub plot. Although in the novel I considered all six main characters (Gatsby, Nick, Tom, Daisy, Jordan and Myrtle) to be equally as important to the plot, this does not come across in the film in Jordan and Myrtle's cases.

The film's climax still shocked me even though I knew exactly what was coming having read the novel beforehand, and the acting was spectacular up to the very end. I genuinely felt like clapping when the credits began to roll!

The film was beautifully produced and often incorporated lines from the novel's narrative onto the screen itself, which was a technique I really liked and appreciated as I considered the narrative to be the novel's strongest asset. I watched the film in 3D, simply due to the fact that the 3D cinema showings were more convenient, and on this rare occasion I think the 3D effects do actually add to the film's visual quality. The party scenes are especially vivid and really capture the decadent atmosphere of the swarming gatherings.

So, to sum up, you should definitely watch this film. Those of you who have read the book won't be disappointed by the film's representation, and those of you who haven't read it will be struck by the visual brilliance of the film and the insight into the American lifestyles of the 1920s. Definitely one for the DVD collection!

Has anyone else seen the film or read the book? Which did you prefer?

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