Last night I made my first visit to my local cinema. It is in a beautiful old fashioned building, with chandeliers, wooden beaming and a stage in front of the cinema screen. It is beautiful. I am rubbish at going to the cinema and it is usually some months between each visit and it takes a very special film to ensure I make the time to go and watch it on the big screen.
The Great Gatsby was special enough!
Set in the 1920s, before America is hit by the devastation of The Great Depression, it is told from the perspective of Nick Carraway and focuses on his relationship with his mysterious neighbour, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby hosts the most elaborate and fabulous parties and yet no one knows who he is really is. When Carraway eventually meets his neighbour he is drawn into the illicit love affair of Gatsby and Carraway’s cousin, Daisy. It is a deep rooted past love affair that was always destined to burn out and it does in a shocking way.
I was very excited about The Great Gatsby and I ignored all reviews, refusing thread them until I had the opportunity to make up my own mind. Unfortunately even now I am not sure how I truly feel about this film adaptation. There were many parts that I loved; I appreciated the difference between Daisy and Tom’s life and the life he leads with Myrtle, enjoying the sharply drawn contrasts between the classy and the grotesque; I liked how the grotty out of town area that was overlooked by ‘the eyes’ was dark and dismal, again providing a perfect contrast between the lives of the wealthy and privileged and those who had to work for a living. Leonardo Di Caprio was amazing (as he usually is) and really brought Gatsby to life. He was in control, yet fragile and it was clear at every point how he had been affected by love in the past. The parties were incredible and beautifully shot, I came away wishing I lived in the 1920s so I could do the Charleston and dance the night away – admittedly I do dance many nights away, but not like that.
Despite all this the film didn’t quite leave me breathless and wanting more. I felt it was slow getting started and did not have the opulence and beauty that I usually expect in a Baz Luhrman film, at least not right from the start. It certainly became more interesting as soon as Gatsby became a part of the film in person and his relationship with Daisy was beautifully portrayed. The ending was incredible and even though I have read the book I was still shocked as I had forgotten key points.
My favourite part of the whole film came when Nick was discussing the attitude of privilege people like Daisy and Tom Buchanan. He mentioned how they storm into people’s worlds, leave a mountain of destruction and devastation and then move on leaving someone else to pick up the pieces, never giving a second glance at what they had just left behind. Obviously this was said in a much more lyrical fashion, but it certainly highlighted how every action has a reaction regardless of how you might view it.
Overall, it was a good film. It wasn’t spectacular, but I would certainly recommend it.