“Gatsby, what Gatsby?”
The Great Gatsby opens in a Sanitarium where we meet Nick Carraway, played by Tobey Maguire, as a man suffering from depression and anger issues. Here, he starts talking about his past in New York and how everybody repulsed him, except for one man, and that man was Gatsby, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. His stored anger and issues compelled his psychiatrist to recommend to Nick to write about what exactly happened all those years ago.
We go back to the past where we see Nick Carraway arrive in New York for the first time. He finds a house in the West Egg next to Gatsby’s house. We see him take a job in the Stock Market, where in the 1920’s, it’s considered a prosperous job, where many opportunities can be found. He meets with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan played by Carey Mulligan, who lives in the East Egg, otherwise considered as “old money”. We also meet her friend, Jordan Baker, who Nick takes an interest on, and Tom Buchanan played by Joel Edgerton, Daisy’s two-timing husband. Here, Jordan asks Nick if he’s ever met Gatsby, and in this scene, we see recognition appear on Daisy’s place when Gatsby’s name has been said, propelling her to utter the words: “Gatsby, what Gatsby?” They have dinner and an awkward dinner at that. Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson, calls during the dinner, but here Nick finds out more about Gatsby and his apparent “elaborate parties.”
We see Gatsby’s silhouette throughout this film but we never actually see Gatsby until twenty minutes into the movie. We meet him in one of his parties. Nick Carraway receives an invitation to his party, but the thing is , no one else receives one. You don’t need one. Anybody could enter his house and attend the party. And what a fantastic party it is. The special effects are great in this movie but it takes the audience out of the story. There is a thing called “too much style”. It’s all very pretty but everything is flowing in your face and it becomes too artsy for me. The reveal of Gatsby is definitely overdone. The music and the fireworks exploding in the background is just overdone. It’s actually quite laughable. Now in every party, you can find music. Now, the setting of this movie is in the 1920s. The music that a person would expect would be a jazz, old age music. But nope. Baz Luhrmann and Jay-Z collaborated and made a soundtrack, a modern soundtrack. So throughout this film, you can hear hip-hop and modern music. It did not work for me. I didn’t understand the reason for it. Yes, Gatsby is timeless. But a movie can be timeless with real jazz music. I found this whole part of the movie to be like a music video. No substance at all.
We see a bond emerge between Gatsby and Nick throughout this film. Gatsby always seem to seek Nick’s approval in everything he does and about his past. We see why eventually. Because Gatsby wants to use Nick to be closer to Daisy, the love of his life. The reason he does everything he does. In a comedic scene, we see Gatsby panicking as Nick and Gatsby await for the arrival of Daisy. When they first meet, none of them know exactly what to say. But Nick pushes Gatsby in the right direction and immediately, Gatsby and Daisy reconnect into the past lovers they originally were. Daisy and Gatsby begin an affair and Tom Buchanan begins to become suspicious. He delves into Gatsby’s past, and throughout all of this, the truth is slowly revealed about Gatsby. Gatsby invites Daisy and Tom to one of his parties. Daisy and Gatsby sneak off into the woods where Daisy expresses her desire to run away with Gatsby. Shortly after Tom and Daisy leave, Gatsby and Nick have a talk where Nick explains to Gatsby that, “You can’t repeat the past.” This is also one of the main themes of this movie as well. The past is what drives Gatsby to becomes the man that he is. He’s still holding on that sliver of hope that Daisy will fall back in his arms just like the past. Gatsby and Daisy, the next day, planned on telling Tom about the affair and they’re want to become together. But things didn’t go as planned especially when Daisy got cold feet, and instead told everybody she wanted to go out. Tom, using Gatsby’s car, drove Nick and Jordan, and Gatsby, using Tom’s car, took Daisy. Along the way, Tom stopped at Wilson’s house, where he received shocking news that Wilson and Myrtle were both planning to head out West. Tom’s lack of control worries him. Both women in his life were leaving him and he knew he couldn’t allow that. At the hotel the group is staying at, Gatsby finally told Tom that Daisy and him were together and Daisy is planning on leaving him. Gatsby claims that Daisy never even loved him at all. Never. In the beginning, Daisy stood strong and agreed on everything Gatsby said. But, Tom managed to play Daisy, stating the many events they experienced together through their marriage, where Daisy cracks stating that she did love him. Tom then turn things around on Gatsby, exposing the secrets Gatsby has been hiding. That Gatsby makes his money through bootlegging, and all in all, he’s a fake. He couldn’t possibly provide for Daisy. Gatsby lashes out on Tom, silencing everyone in the room. Daisy becomes horrified by Gatsby, and that seemed to be the final straw for her. Tom, satisfied with the events, told Gatsby to drive Daisy home, while he brings home Nick and Jordan. In a sad turn of events, Nick states, “I just realized it was my birthday.”
Unlike before, Tom actually drives his own blue car, while Gatsby drives his custom-yellow car. But as Gatsby and Daisy were driving home, Myrtle runs out to the road, after being harassed by her husband about having an affair. Due to Tom driving Gatsby’s car earlier in the day, she believed it to be Tom and instead gets run over. Tom, Nick, and Jordan arrive at the scene. Tom then tells Wilson about who was driving the car. The same man that was having an affair with Myrtle. He lies and says it to be Gatsby. They arrive home where Nick spots Gatsby outside of Tom’s mansion. Nick is anguished with Gatsby with the hit and run, but learns that it was Daisy driving the car. Gatsby made Nick promise not to tell a soul. Gatsby stays outside of the mansion to ensure that Daisy is safe. But Nick, few minutes before, found out that Daisy and Tom were planning to run away together. Nick didn’t have the heart to tell Gatsby such a thing. Gatsby comes home at around 3 am where Nick stays up with Gatsby helping him with cleaning and covering the car. At the same time, Gatsby decided to tell the whole truth to Nick, all about his life. That he was born a poor farm boy. That he ran away from his family, believing he was destined for something greater. He rescued a millionaire in the ocean and believed he was going to receive some of the inheritance, but the millionaire’s family prevented him from doing so. And that’s where he met Dan Cody, the man that helped him out, especially in the bootlegging business, and eventually, making him a very rich man. As the sun rose, Gatsby asked Nick to stay for the rest of the day. Nick declined and claimed he had to go to work. As Nick leaves, he provides a compliment to Gatsby, the only one he’s ever given. Gatsby, waiting for the call from Daisy, decides to go out for a swim. And as he swims, the phone rings. The butler reaches out and answers it just as Gatsby is shot by Wilson. Gatsby falls to his death believing the caller to be Daisy, but in fact, it was Nick. At the same time, Wilson commits suicide.
We reach a conclusion to the story. Gatsby, dead, was convicted of the murder of Myrtle. Tom and Daisy ran off never to return. Nick was the only one Gatsby had, and the only one who visited Gatsby’s funeral. Nick becomes angry at everybody he’s ever interacted with in New York, especially with Tom and Daisy, who were careless people that destroyed anything they ever touched. He eventually leaves New York and that’s where we see Nick finish the story. We see Nick at the end, change the name of the book from “Gatsby” to “The Great Gatsby”.
It’s not a film I recommend on seeing. In fact, I prefer the 1974 version with Robert Redford. Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic as Gatsby who I felt was carrying the film. Joel Edgerton was also great as Tom. The rest of the actors, I felt, didn’t really add much. Carey Mulligan, I felt, overdid her role as Daisy, and Tobey Maguire, to me, could have been replaced. He wasn’t bad but wasn’t great either. He didn’t add anything to the character. The movie was lackluster. I often found myself dozing off. This was a case of style over substance. Everything was overdone and was way too showy. The best part of the film was the conclusion. I wanted more from this film. This book is not a romance, but a tragedy, filled with themes that are showcased throughout. I wanted to see more about the difference of old money and new money. I wanted to see more of the theme of the American Dream. I just wanted more. This movie had so much potential but just wasn’t done right. Maybe, I didn’t like it because I had so much hype for this movie. From many interviews, it seemed like Baz Luhrmann knew what he was doing. That he knew the book and what it represented. He claimed that he was going to stay true to the storyline. He told the same story from the book but barely incorporated any of the themes and I am forever disappointed. I’m not saying this movie is terrible and bad, I quite enjoyed some of the scenes. For anybody that loves the book, “The Great Gatsby”, go ahead and see it. You might enjoy it. For those that don’t really care about the book, skip it. There are better movies to watch like Iron Man 3 or the 1974, “The Great Gatsby”. Or you could wait for Star Trek next week.