Ordinarily, millions would have been delighted and all would have been well. Critics would have smiled without pointing scraggy little fingers at key mistakes and grumbling words like “pity” under their breath. This is because The Great Gatsby is not ordinary. Neither will it seem ordinary when the wonderful 3D images transport you through an entire new world of colour and vibrancy. But it’s just not The Great Gatsby.
Gatsby is an eccentric millionaire in the thriving 1920s bent on retrieving the love of his life, Daisy, who is married to old money sport star Tom Buchanan. Through his sparkling optimism he befriends the cousin of Daisy, Nick Carraway, and the emotional peacocking game takes shape. There is no end to Gatsby’s lavish gestures and ridiculous parties and it all builds to an inevitable crescendo.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Jay Gatsby, is brilliant, making you wonder if there is anything he can’t do. Tobey Maguire excellently captures the emotional outsider that is Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan is point perfect as the doe-eyed Daisy Buchanan. The rest of the ensemble cast, boasting names like Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke, are also firing on all cylinders which indicates that Luhrmann brings out the best in his actors. But for some reason, the emotional feel is just not there.
In the 1974 film (there have been five including this new one: 1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, 2013), Robert Redford who played Gatsby drew the audience in perfectly as he embodied the estranged lover and Daisy, played by Mia Farrow, was the epitome of the foolish beautiful girl. The viewers’ breath was wrenched out as they left cinemas feeling empty, exactly as the story intends. This modern remake is a very good film – it will captivate the audience and really is a feast for the eyes but it is just not what it could have been. The Great Gatsby should have been a 10/10.
The soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby was almost as eagerly anticipated as the film itself. The star-studded soundtrack, which features Jay-Z as an executive producer, boasts a variety of artists at the top of their game in their respective genres. Artists range from the sultry melodies of Florence + the Machine and Sia to a hip-hop track by Jay-Z and the hushed, melancholy pop of The xx.
The main aim of the soundtrack was to incorporate music from the modern era and popular music from the roaring 20s. As a result, we’re offered an interesting combination of hi-hats, dance synths and horns with a little bit of dubstep thrown into the pot. The mixture of jazz, hip hop, dance and swing come together in this cacophony of a soundtrack, which is suited perfectly to Luhrmann’s colourful and frenzied adaption of Fitzgerald’s classic novel. A lot of the songs achieve the purpose of mixing the classical 1920s sound with that of 2013, albeit haphazardly at times.
Notable songs in the album are the pained and emotional “Over the Love” by Florence + the Machine and Lana Del Rey’s contemplative and hopeful “Young and Beautiful”, with the latter being played repeatedly throughout the film.
“Where the Wind Blows” by the relatively unknown artist Coco O (from Quadron, a Danish indie pop duo) is one of the songs on the album which fits both the modern era and that of the Jazz Age. The song has the feel of a smoke-filled speakeasy with the classic 1920s piano riffs and beat.
The covers on the album don’t quite hit the mark, with the exception of Jack White’s cover of the U2 song “Love is Blindness”. The versions of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” and Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” seem to try too hard to stay within the confines of the decade. While the disjointed cover of “Back to Black” fits perfectly into the film, Winehouse fans may not appreciate André 3000 and Beyoncé’s more chilling version of the song. Emeli Sandé’s cover of “Crazy in Love” failed miserably, sounding more like something that would be heard in a karaoke bar than on the soundtrack of a Baz Luhrmann film.
Even though it has few individually remarkable songs, the production value of the album in its entirety cannot be faulted. The amount of work which was put into producing the appropriate music is obvious when you listen to this soundtrack, which is what you would expect from a producer of Jay-Z’s calibre. This soundtrack is one which is dependent on the film in order for most of the songs to be regarded as anything special.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10