Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{The Great Gatsby opens in Seattle on Friday, 5/10, and is playing at the Landmark Guild 45th, The Big Picture, and Thornton Place IMAX®. In both 2D and 3D! Check listings for 3D screenings.}

Ah, Baz Luhrmann. The Director people love to hate. I’m actually in the “love to love” category (with the exception of Australia. That fucking movie. Unnnnnngggghh.), but this guy’s work certainly divides film fans. So what happens when Baz gets ahold of beloved F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby? Pretty much what you’d expect: A novel about excess adapted by a guy who specializes in excess. Including the application of another excessive thing—3D.

Set in the roaring ‘20s, the story starts with aspiring Wall Street mogul Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire. Ugh.) recalling how he moved into a quaint Long Island cottage that happened to be right next door to the mysterious GIGANTOR mansion of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). In which the reclusive zillionaire stares out the windows broodingly while throwing lavish parties full of beautiful people, confetti, fireworks, and of course, enough illegal hooch to fill six Olympic swimming pools with.

It’s not long before Carraway learns that Gatsby’s extreme host persona and piles of money have been created and amassed to get the attention of a certain girl—the beautiful and emotionally delicate Daisy (Carey Mulligan, who was like, MADE for this role), who happens to be Carraway’s cousin, and who also just happens to live directly across the water in her own gigantor mansion with her terrible, overbearing, cheating husband.

Gatsby enlists the help of supermodel sportswoman Jordan Baker (Elizabeth Debicki, who I am going to start paying a LOT more attention to), to enlist the help of Nick, to get Daisy over to his side of the lake so they can rekindle their long-lost love. And it totally works! Obviously. What girl wouldn’t fall for a smooth-talking Leo in pastel-colored 20s suits with a closet as big as an airplane hanger?

Unfortunately, this is a tragedy, not a comedy, so there are some rather large complications. Like the fact that Daisy’s husband, Tom (Joel Edgerton), is onto this scheme, and he’s not having any of it. And Tom’s jealous mistress, Myrtle, isn’t having any of it either. And Myrtle’s alcoholic husband, George, DEFINITEY isn’t having any of anything (except, uh, booze. and car grease). And—oh hey, maybe Daisy isn’t having any of it either? SPOILER ALERT.

Anyway. As you’d expect, Luhrmann paints massive amounts of gold and glitter from one end of the screen to the other. GLITTERBOMB! SPARKLEMOTION!!!! And the costumes! Ohman the costumes. And the jewelry! Ohman, the jewelry. I bet Tiffany sells a bazillion dollars worth of that shit after the movie opens and people see it draped all over Carey Mulligan’s flawless complexion.

Flawless: that’s a good word for the movie LOOKS. Both Mulligan and Debicki appear so damn near perfect you’ll almost be fooled into thinking they’re life-size dolls; not a hair out of place on their perfectly cut '20s bobs (HAIR COVETING). And the 3D only makes everyone appear more smootheed out and surreal, plus, admittedly, it kicks some serious ass when used to enhance falling snow, sparkling fireworks, and buckets of confetti.

And we already know it’s a good story, right? But even though I was blown away by how gorgeous this film was, there’s something about it that doesn’t quite work. True, a large part of that is the fact that I find Tobey Maguire infinitely irritating, but honestly Leo looked like he was sleepwalking through the movie, so those two basically cancelled out how brilliant both Mulligan and Edgerton were for me.

And it’s not the music—I know people are all freaking out about Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” being turned into a jazzy speakeasy tune, but I actually LOVED that—so what is it? I can’t pin it down, exactly. It just seemed sort of empty, despite all the obvious work that was put into making this thing spectacular (spectacular).

Look, anytime you can’t get some tears out of ME with a tragic love story, I feel like you’re doing it wrong. I cry at fucking Google commercials. Was I expecting too much by comparing it to my favorite Baz film, Moulin Rouge? Maybe. And it’s entirely possible Gatsby will grow on me if I see it a few more times—or maybe not.

Either way, I look forward to arguing with everyone else about what an idiot I am for not loving it whole-heartedly straight away; or about what an idiot I am for liking anything Luhrmann has ever done. GOOD TIMES.