Note: I promise I will not spoil the ending or story line of the movie for those of you that haven't been lucky enough to read the book or see the original yet.
So this past year I decided to go on a hunt for my favorite classic author. I realized that all my favorite books happen to be trashy love stories found in the teen section of barnes and noble, which caused me to be slightly ashamed. Realizing how uncultured I was I set out to read some of the classic books and hopefully become a little more intelligent in the process. So I drove to barnes and noble with my gift card I had conveniently just received for Christmas and made a bee line for the adult fiction section, by-passing the teen fiction and college books. (In case you didn't know, I'm a mega nerd about researching colleges/scholarships/standardized tests) I was pleasantly surprised when barnes and noble was having some sort of "classic book month" where they sold all the old books with new covers for cheaper. I glanced at the Jane Austin novels which I actually really wanted to read and I thought about possibly reading Walden, before I decided against it. I finally found Fitzgerald's novels and chose "The Beautiful and Damned" as my first book to read. To be really blatant about it, I chose the book because the title intrigued me and I really love the 1920s. I proudly came home with my book and used it as a tool to avoid all homework. I quickly fell in love with the dark outlook on elitists society and felt a reverence for the humble and quiet characters that Fitzgerald to represent him. My first Fitzgerald book led to my love of his writing.
The next week in school the book we were assigned to read was The Great Gatsby, which was obviously quite exciting. I went back to the book store, bought the book, and read it in a day. I then realized there was a movie that had been made for it and watched it the next day. I'm going to be honest and say that I thought the book and original movie were rather anti-climatic. I enjoyed the point that was conveyed through out them but struggled with finding real enjoyment out of the plot line. It has been my least favorite book I've read by Fitzgerald. Nonetheless, studying both the book and original movie made me extremely excited to see the new movie. Apparently, everyone else was on the same boat as me judging by my twitter feed. If I had to guess though the girls obsessively tweeting about the movie were more interested in Leonardo's looks or the parties shown in the trailer than analyzing the plot and recreation of the book.
I went to see the movie on opening day with relatively low expectations. I knew the original wasn’t all too great, so I expected a played up movie with a lot of great parties. But I actually loved it. The new movie revealed the story line in such an enticing and intriguing way that made it easy to connect symbolism that I hadn’t connected before. Many people had complained to me that the music selection was going to ruin the movie because it wasn’t music from the 20s, but I personally thought the music choice made the movie what it was. It brought a new light to the plot that made the connection between the greed for glamour in the 20s to societies avid need for tangible items present in today’s culture. The song most played through out the movie was “Young and Beautiful” by Lana DelRay. (I normally think Lana DelRay is an over talked about and extremely weird celebrity that became famous through her hipster audience with her first song people about her pepsi-cola smelling lady parts, which grosses me out a lot. However, the song is actually beautiful and really appropriate for the movie.)I’m not one to really notice a movie’s soundtrack either so for me to be impressed by it says quite a lot. A lot of people also criticized the movie for making the parties “too wild” and yet again, I thought it was appropriate and needed for the movie. I don’t know about you but I would totally go to one of Jay Gatsby’s parties. They are loud, crazy, glamourous, elegant. As one of the characters said “I like large parties, they are so intimate. At small parties there is no privacy.” Lastly, the chemistry between the actors was incredible.
However, there were some parts of the movie that threw me for a loop. They made the narrator, Nick Caraway, tell the story from a psychiatrist's office where he has been diagnosed an alcoholic. Nick Caraway is no where near an alcoholic. He has only gotten drunk twice in his life and he is the by-stander and viewers of all these events. While I see why he might become alcoholic after he sees the disgusting ways of the elite society, he does not. He is a moral man. Also, the filming and camera angles seemed to be a little weird to me. I did not like how the camera would seemingly “fly” to the next destination through out the film, it was just a little off.
So, I guess the final conclusion to my review on this movie would be that it was a highly enjoyable movie but I just can’t see how anyone who doesn’t already know the plot would find it to be an amazing movie. It conveys a deep and saddening truth in a well thought out satire with great actors, production, and sound, but overall shows an anti-climatic plot line.
Please go see it and share your ideas on it with me!