The Great Gatsby

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Excess and Expectations

The Great Gatsby is about excess.  Excessive wealth, excessive alcohol, excessive lusts, and above all excessive home décor (at least in this movie).  When it comes to showing all this excess, Director Baz Luhrmann succeeds in a big way.  The film is over the top, pulsating, gyrating, everybody into the pool craziness.  The movie succeeds in being deliberately vulgar.

Now we come to, well, Great Expectations.  Herein lies the challenge. The Great Gatsby is arguably the most widely read and beloved American classic.  There is no way the movie can live up to the book.  And in fact the film received decidedly mixed reviews.

Judged on its own merits, The Great Gatsby is Good.  I found the film beautifully shot, well acted and faithful to the book (at least my daughter told me this, I read the book 30+ years ago and only remember the faintest outline of the plot).   Leonardo DiCaprio does a good job with a challenging role – although it might have been better for everyone’s sake if the script pared down the number times he had to utter “Old Sport.”  Carey Mulligan and Tobey MacGuire are strong in supporting roles.  The much-discussed contemporary soundtrack works well.  The colors are vibrant.  Daisy’s dresses, jewelry, and haircut are fab.  The movie is highly visual and entertaining, and that, in the end, is Great Good enough for me.

Rating:  *** (out of ****)

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