Friday, 31 May 2013

Film Review: The Great Gatsby

What's It About?
In the newest interpretation of F.Scott Fitzgerald's most famous novel, young Nick Carraway finds himself involved in the fortunes of his millionaire neighbour, a certain Jay Gatsby, as he tries to win back a lost love. If you don't know the story then I should warn you, I will not be holding back on spoilers in this review!

Was it any good?
I've read and heard some criticism that the film is too obsessed with the visual, the superficial, the materialistic. Many have complained that it doesn't get to the heart of the meaning that makes the book such an enduring tale. Perhaps it's worth considering, as A.O.Scott points out in this excellent article, that F. Scott Fitzgerald's original is just as concerned with the appearance of objects and people and places as Luhrmann's adaptation is. Whatsmore, by making this heady and hedonistic movie with a soundtrack by contemporary artists, Luhrmann shows us how this jazz age tale is in fact a story of our era. Scott thinks we can see many aspects of our own society reflected in the movie: "This is how we live: greedily, enviously, superficially, in a state of endless, self-justifying desire." Personally I thought that the outstanding visuals and focus on the material worked really well. Gatsby's house is a fairytale facade with a cathedral-like entry hall in which his guests arrive to worship at the altar of capitalism. The whole thing seems to be unreal, even the less glamourous settings like the ash heaps are created with computer graphics so that they seem artificial. This again seems to pay homage to the book, which, as my friend Jas says "is swept up in beautiful rich heady language and total sensory overload, only to prove that the entire narrative is illusory and could never really exist because the whole thing is a sham."

The performances are pretty much all of a good quality, though I found that all of the cast were guilty of saying significant lines in a way which may as well have been preceded with them shouting: "listen to this bit it's a clever and important line!" Just like Moulin Rouge, some parts border on the overly-corny, but again this seems to play into the overall tone of the film and it somehow works. Leonardo DiCaprio was particularly strong and had a great way of going from angry to confident to happy in 0.3 seconds so I hope he's recognised for that come awards season. Also special mention to whoever thought of casting Callan McAuliffe as young Gatsby - it's quite an ask to find someone who has the same look as Leonardo Dicaprio but I think he is pretty damn close. Especially when they're wearing near-identical sweatshirts.

But what about the clothes?
Leading on from my comment about the sweatshirts, I have to say that, gorgeous as the party clothes were, it was some of the more casual clothing which caught my eye. I think that's because a sign of real wealth is not just how sparkly your outfits are, but also how refined and high-quality your loungewear is. The white jumper worn by Gatsby was a particular favourite, as were the multiple silk kimonos worn by women throughout the film, especially Myrtle's, which made for a great cinematic moment when she is hit by the car and it ripples around her in slow motion. 

But you really want to know about the suits and the flapper dresses don't you? It's true, they're all stunning. Catherine Martin has done a great job of mixing her own designs with reworked Prada pieces. As well as looking amazing and evoking the era, the costumes also tell you a lot about the character. I particularly liked how Jordan and Daisy often seemed to dress in similar colours but while Daisy went for more full-skirted options, Jordan worked a more masculine look, which suits her sporting character. Especially in the first scene which we see them in, in which Daisy wears a white dress embroidered with flowers and with a flouncy skirt (though it seems to have been turned pink for the movie's advertising posters) and Jordan wears a sleek cream dress, showing off Elizabeth Debicki's gorgeous figure and height.

Now we all know I like a good suit. This film has plenty of dapper creations, from Nick's adorable three-piece and bowtie to Tom's fairly standard evening black tie to Gatsby's ostentatious pink outfit. It makes me wistful for the days when men would dress smartly for every occasion, including breakfast. I think my favourite has to be Gatsby's white suit from the tea party. It's an outfit described in the book ("white-flannel suit, silver shirt, and a gold-colored tie") and as such has already been incarnated in the Robert Redford version, but I think I prefer this one. I just love the way it fits close to Leo's body, and yet it's ostentatious enough to seem like a costume, because Gatsby has to dress up in order to face Daisy again.

Some pictures from I Capture The Period Pieces though all are, I assume, property of Warner Brothers (apart from the one of Robert Redford which is Paramount)

1 comment:

Devon - InformedStyle said...

I've been nervous about going to see the film - because while I know that Luhrmann's visuals will be stunning, I'm also a fan of the novel. Sometimes the whole book v. movie thing gets risky for me.

That said, the fashion is a big draw - love how even the outfit described in the book can take on a new life when a different designer is put at the helm.

Thanks for 'warming me up' to the film!