The Great Gatsby reviewed by Lee Klein

, "the best way to enjoy the film is to put aside whatever literary agenda you are tempted to bring with you.---A.O Scott in the New York Times in reviewing The Great Gatsby the 2013 film,

The Great Gatsby

Directed by                    Baz Luhrmann

Produced by                  Baz Luhrmann, Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher, Catherine Martin, Catherine Knapman

Screenplay by                Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce

Based on                       The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Starring                        Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke

Music by                       Craig Armstrong

Cinematography            Simon Duggan

Editing by                     Matt Villa, Jason Ballantine, Jonathan Redmond

Studio                           Village Roadshow Pictures, Bazmark Productions, A&E Television, Red Wagon Entertainment

Distributed by                Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date(s)               May 10, 2013 (2013-05-10)

Running time                 143 minutes

Country                        United States, Australia

Language                      English


Back in 2001 upon returning from the Republic of Turkey and being searched on the tarmac after almost missing his flight this writer turned to alcohol to calm the fuck down. Subsequently the in-flight movie was “Moulin Rouge”; so it goes without saying this viewer did not expect this film edition of “The Great Gatsby” to be superlative... How wrong he was... ..

For every time this filmgoer on his day off returned to the cinema to see Baz Luhrmann's 2013 screen adaptation of Fitzgerald’s infamous volume he said to himself as does Daisy looking straight at Jay for the first time in a new context…”I certainly am glad to see you again”.

The spectacular moment of intimacy which Gatsby is able to craft at Nick Carraway's cottage by bestowing upon it an overabundance of floral umbrage and staging his reunion with the love of his young life is so naturally well done with an of the now intimacy time stops dead in the heart of summer.

Therein the overblown frenzy of the stock market and jazz age dizziness in illuminated golden waterfalls of the glittering night we hear the writer talking to us  again via the images and the motifs from a far or not that far off decade articulating as Gatsby and caraway coalesce as F. Scott’s words fly by (as do the cars the characters drive on would become today’s Northern Boulevards) in an age recreated and out of the mouths of a narrator and ensemble ( which take notice that every member of which if  not the highest note that then  in life as well the players in a drama are not always all that they are made out to be). Here the attention to detail is outstanding and the written directive correctly rises to its zenith at the Plaza, where the to the manor born and the self created crash into each other in heart of this new new world economy.

To this veiwer the fact that this movie was holding its water was much in evidence here this is the climax the moment of Shakesperean tragedy the unfolding of the play within the novel.  In this moment the film is magnificent as gauntlets are thrown down and Tom is unveiled as the agent of Gatsby's demise…. He is not one of them , most of us are not, if not all of us are not one of them , but here they are all members of the club except for one who is not, he is in all of us, and the water does not break

There are for sure moments of pure product placement Leonardo diCaprio throwing out sheets in an all but clothing commercial and the Moet in the cooler on the Queensboro Bridge.  Then as to where the skeptics maybe right that the blonde headed role morphing Titanic stowaway is walking into shoes which he should not wear, but, at other times as when “he looked like he just killed a man” he looks like he just killed a man. There are the inevitable mistakes in telling a story such as you cannot tell if Gatsby or Daisy is driving the death car until they do a flashback and the Dusenberg is supposed to be a Rolls Royce, plus Gatsby's paltry funeral attendance list has been all screwed up.

Sure some of the characters are cartoonish but it brings you right there into the crux to the portrait painted of Arnold Rothstein (perhaps a bit to weirdly portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan) trying to make light of the darker the anti-Semitic side of the villainous creature for whom Gatsby was in effect a front (as are today’s nightclub promoters with fancy last names for the overlords of the meatpacking district night)….. But the colors are painted crisply the yellow car the blue “your car was blue” says the man in blue…. As if even getting into a bit off Fauvism or Hopperian or other ashcan chromatic realism----Jay-Z (perhaps drawn to the project by the letter of the alphabet named after the subway line perhaps how they might eventually forget) Shawn Carter is able to step right in and plant the trumpeter at the walk up apartment building liquor and orgy romp sex rendezvous and place African-Americans on the car sped by in the coupe filled with champagne.  The blue-bloods are the racists (as is spelled out by Tom Buchanan} but not the players in the gangsta mode anything goes world where everybody is invited…. the world had already changed—The rap music is not bothersome in the least, Shakespeare used anachronisms where appropriate and here the worlds merging illustrate that this story is being brought alive for a new generation from an earlier one when a love sacrifice by a man who exited in the center stage of his waterfront swimming pool drowned as the embodiment of an age which could have had it all


This was a novel written by a young man hopeful for all that was or would be, but, which ends in tragedy……and every time I see it feels as if the world smells as fresh again right now as if were the golden morning of a picture perfect summer’s day



Lee Klein

June 2013