Overall Impression – Mostly dizzying…and not just because I was in the third row.
THE FOUR QUESTIONS
Who’s your main character? – Gatsby
What’s he trying to accomplish? – Physical: Make something of himself in spite of his poor background. Emotional: Rekindle his relationship with Daisy. Spiritual: Keep his real background a secret.
Who’s trying to stop him? – Tom Buchanan
What happens if he fails? – Gatsby and Daisy will never be together and never find true love.
THE FOUR ARCHETYPES
Orphan – Gatsby lives in a giant mansion, but with no real friends in spite of the hundreds who show up every weekend to party there.
Wanderer – Gatsby gets Nick, the innocent young man who lives next door to reach out to Daisy, his cousin, on his behalf. He figures out how to woo Daisy after having been away from her for 5 years.
Warrior – As Daisy and Gatsby rekindle their romance, Gatsby, with Nick’s help, actively works to keep the affair secret from Daisy’s brutish husband, Tom.
Martyr – Gatsby takes the blame for the death of Myrtle to protect Daisy, ultimately being killed by her grieving husband.
AND, IN THE END…
Reviewers have been tripping over themselves labeling the film “The Good Gatsby”. In many ways, they’re right. The film is Baz Luhrmann eye-candy, to be sure. Long stretches of the film are devoted to flash and bang, but very little substance.
The film makes some critical errors as well: the overuse of literary devices, Nick’s incessant narration, scenes and moments set up and either not paid off or glossed over, and even long stretches where our main characters are invisible (we don’t meet Gatsby until 30 minutes in, and then towards the climax there’s what feels like a 40 minute stretch where Nick (Tobey Maguire) is in every scene but has — maybe — one line of dialog.)
I was never bored while watching The Great Gatsby, but like the partygoers who flooded his mansion week after week, I left the joint feeling a bit woozy and knowing very little about my host.
— Jeffrey Alan Schechter