The Great Gatsby (2013)

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Nick Caraway (Toby Maguire) moves to New York to be part of the Wall Street boom. He moves into a small cottage in the West Egg, next to billionaire Jay Gatsby’s mansion. He is instantly intrigued by the man who he sees only glimpses of and only meets until much later. Gatsby is notoriously mysterious, and with no one knowing where he gets his millions from he is the subject of abject curiosity. Gatsby is known for throwing lavish parties where every party goer in NY is welcome without an invitation, although no one really even knows how he looks like.

Nick reunites with his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and meets her pompous husband Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It is immediately obvious that theirs is not a happy marriage. During dinner, the phone rings incessantly and Daisy knows that it is Tom’s current mistress calling. Joining them at dinner also is golfer Jordan Parker (Elizabeth Debicki). She seems very aloof but gets overly curious whenever Daisy and Tom fights. When Jordan casually mentions that she knows Nick’s neighbor, Nick immediately notices that the name Gatsby means something very important to Daisy.

Nick is incredibly flattered when he becomes the first person ever to receive a personal invitation to go to Gatsby’s next party. He attends, and he and Jordan start searching for the elusive host. When Nick finds him, he is startled when Jay Gatsby is young, handsome and charming; nothing like the old man he was expecting to meet. Gatsby requests that Nick joins him on an adventure the next day, and he accepts.

Gatsby and Nick are on their way to being friends when they go to a secret lounge one day. There Nick meets Meyer Wolfsheim (Amitabh Bachchan), Gatsby’s business partner and seemingly a very underhanded man. He and Gatsby both offer Nick a way to make extra cash, but Nick instinctively knows that their dealings might not be legal. Gatsby is known and respected by seemingly everyone – including mafia bosses and governors. Yet when Tom Buchanan arrives at the secret luncheon the change in Gatsby is startling. He is immediately withdrawn and seems to have no confidence. Tom barely notices Gatsby and moves on.

Gatsby tells Nick that Jordan will ask him to do a favor to Gatsby. Nick expects the worst, but the request is deceptively simple. Gatsby wants Nick to invite Daisy to lunch, which he wants to attend as well. It is the reunion Gatsby has waited on for years. Nick invites Daisy, and when she sees Gatsby the years fall away and they are once again the young lovers they were five years earlier.

Tom starts to suspect his wife of extra marital affairs but is unable to prove anything because Nick is the perfect cover. However, Gatsby isn’t content to be Daisy’s toyboy – he wants Daisy to divorce Tom and admit she never loved him. She reluctantly agrees and they all have lunch together. Before Gatsby says anything, Daisy says she wants to head into town for some fun. They go, Tom using Gatsby’s car and Daisy and Gatsby in Tom’s car. On the way there, Tom stops for gas and sees his mistress Mytle (Isla Fisher) locked up. Her husband George (Jason Clarke) says that they are planning to go away, and Tom realizes that he is losing his wife and mistress simultaneously. In Town, Tom says he knows that Daisy is sleeping with Gatsby, the confrontation happens but not to Gatsby’s advantage. Daisy is unable to claim that she never loved Tom, because even though Tom is horrible there was something special between them once. Tom, sensing victory, says it is time to head home and says Daisy and Gatsby should use Gatsby’s car again. They leave with screeching tires.

Myrtle sees what she thinks is Tom’s car and runs out into the street for help. The car is unable to swerve in time and kills her instantly. The car rushes away. Tom arrives and sees his mistress dead and realize what it means. He tells George who the car belongs to and leaves as well.

The next day George arrives at the Gatsby mansion looking for Jay. What will happen? Will Daisy leave Tom? What will George do?

Rating: 8.5/10

There was a moment a few minutes into the movie where I wasn’t sure if it would be for me. True, I love Baz Luhrman’s work and I loved the Gatsby novel, but the way it was filmed struck me as a bit odd. It is very artsy to be honest. However, barely a second after the moment I started enjoying it.

The movie is very loyal to the book. It captures the fast paced drama very well. All the characters were well cast – my impression of George Wilson was somewhat different to the movie adaption, but even that worked in the end. I felt really sorry for him. He was an innocent bystander in it all and a puppet in Tom’s plan. I particularly thought Elizabeth Debicki was exceptional as Jordan Parker. She really was what I expected – the aloof, yet innately curious golfer who was mostly also innocent in the events that unfolded.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby

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He once again stole the show as Gatsby. Can he do anything wrong? I think not. He is the standard for all actors to be measured by. He evolved from his young Jack Dawson days to become one of the most exceptional members of Hollywood. I really thought he brought the charm, mystery and sadness Gatsby needed to the table. He is astoundingly charming. The exaggerated accent and the “old sport” – both are parts of the book, irritated me but were essential to what Gatsby is.

Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan

Daisy

The more I think about it, the more I liked Mulligan as Daisy. She did the society princess thing perfectly. She is obviously a very good actress, and I think I will have to find some more movies where she is in to confirm this notion.

Toby Maguire as Nick Carraway

Nick Carraway

I have never been a fan of Toby Maguire, but he was very pleasant in the Great Gatsby. He is perfect to play Nick, and he did a good job playing the young, naive man caught up in Rich People Drama.

If you can, read the book before watching this. It is wonderful to see how loyal the movie is to it.

My review on the book is here

Book Review: The Great Gatsby (Francis Scott Fitzgerald)

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Book: 78/100

I read this book on the recommendation of Zoë, who was really impressed with it. I am so glad I gave it a try. Not only did it pull me out of my reading slump, it was an easy, enjoyable read in superb English.

The Narrartor of the book, Nick Carraway, tells the story about the tragic life of mysterious billionaire Jay Gatsby. Gatsby, his neighbor, throws lavish parties where everyone in town is welcome. He sends a special invitation to Nick to attend and Nick is immediately impressed by the mysterious man. Nick realizes that Jay is obsessed with having a reunion with his one true love Daisy Buchanan. Daisy, a society queen, is Nick’s cousin and is married to Tom Buchanan, a rich, obnoxious man. Five years previous to the book’s events, Jay and Daisy had a romantic relationship before he went to war. When Jay was unable to return as early as promised, she married Tom out of desperation and loneliness.

Five years later Daisy is unhappy in her marriage. Tom constantly cheats on her and his current mistress Myrtle Wilson is a married woman whose husband is oblivious to her extracurricular activities. Gatsby moves into a mansion close to hers, but never makes contact with her until he learns that Nick Carraway can arrange a meeting between the two. Their love is reignited, and it is sweet, but there are too many things happening around them to control the drama that develops because of it. What will happen to their relationship once Tom finds out? What will Myrtle’s husband do when he finds out that his wife is cheating?

Rating: 9/10

This book was a feast to read. It manages to be a quick, enjoyable read that stems from a time period of English literature I don’t often enjoy. It is a tragic book and has a sad ending. I found the fact that no one would attend Gatsby’s funeral particularly sad as he had opened his house to partygoers and no one would even return that kindness in death. In the end, Daisy was a disappointment. Eventually she was just as bad as Tom, selfish and despicable and hiding the truth. Seeing the events unfold through Nick Carraway’s eyes distances the reader makes everything much more dramatic – he is there and witnesses everything first hand. He was an innocent bystander in it all, his greatest crime introducing Daisy and Gatsby again. In the end he also lost everyone – the girl he fell for, his friend and his cousin.

While I have sympathy with Nick, I have the most sympathy for Jay Gatsby. Here is a guy, courageous enough to go to war, and comes back to find out that the girl he loved went and married a man essentially for his bank balance. Then he builds a mansion close to her, but never reaches out and still pines after her. In the end he certainly gets the worst end of the deal.

All in all, this is a classic I will read again and will recommend it to people. It isn’t unreadable, and there is now a movie to accompany it. I will hopefully soon see the movie and will also then be able to say if it brings justice to the novel.

Have you read Gatsby? What did you think about it and the movie adaption?