Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Great Gatsby (Jack Clayton, 1974) Review

Oh I'm sorry, were you expecting a different film with the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire...yeah, we're looking at a completely different one. Since reviews for the newer film were...mixed, to say the least, I decided (or was forced into watching) to watch a different version of the same tile since I would assume it's the same story. Well, let's get this done then...

After moving to Long Island, Nick Carraway (Sam Waterston) finds himself caught up in the affairs of his neighbour, Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford). He becomes one of Gatsby's best friends but when his old flame, Daisy Buchanan (Mia Farrow), returns into his life, events unfold that lead to scandals and violence while Nick tries to patch up Jay's life by becoming a witness to Gatsby's life both through the good and bad. 

If the synopsis sounds garbled, that would be because it was quite hard to explain not only in good length but without giving away spoilers. This leads to my biggest complaint. Until about 3/4 into the film, there isn't really much of a narrative. Only towards the end does something that resembles a plot seems to emerge. You could argue that it's so they can set up the characters and their backstories but Nick and Tom are the only characters that I was actually invested in. Gatsby was only memorable because of Robert Redford's portrayal (granted, he was good in the role). 

Now I haven't read the book (I'm too busy reading books by Karl Pilkington), but apparently this is an accurate interpretation...but that doesn't seem to help the film as it drags horrifically. I already mentioned the lack of a clear narrative as well as introducing characters that seem useless until the which point I've lost all care and empathy for them so I therefore do not get engaged with the characters. Like I said, Nick and Tom were the only likable characters (okay..Tom isn't 'likable' but he was memorable).

The Great Gatsby was interesting. I'm glad I saw it just for the ending but otherwise, it wasn't very memorable. It's not a terrible's just not very memorable. It proves that accuracy to the source material isn't exactly essential since it just drags in this case (hell, films like The Dark Knight and the entire James Bond film franchise prove that we don't always need accuracy to the original source material).

A not very memorable flick with good acting...but not very engaging due to bland characters and lack of clear narrative.

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