Butler County Times Gazette
  • Costello: DiCaprio amazes again in 'Gatsby'

  • The new movie "The Great Gatsby" brings an extravagant take of the classic novel to the big screen.
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  • Daisy finally gives in to Jay Gatsby's continual pressing, a moment for which he had been waiting for a long time, when the two of them finally could be together.
    While they're secluded out of sight from another one of Gatsby's parties, she suggests they run away together.
    Gatsby softly, yet firmly, glances into her eyes and says "No. That wouldn't be respectable."
    But what exactly is it that's so respectable about Gatsby, anyway?
    Well, nothing, really. Or actually, quite a lot. Especially when the character is being played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
    The new movie "The Great Gatsby" brings an extravagant take of the classic novel to the big screen, easily one of my personal favorite assigned readings in high school. Gatsby, the character, is famous for his riches and not his character. But does he even care about that? In his mind, Gatsby has a singular goal, and all the other distractions are just a sideshow.
    Meeting Gatsby was a magical movie moment. The camera closes in on him as he's overlooking his big party - and watching the skies - then, with a quick twirl, he faces the screen, perfectly timed with the glow of fireworks behind him as he holds out his hand for introductions. It's one of those clips that could be used in those movie montages that show famous characters or quick scenes of classic movie moments.
    But it's all a facade. See, Gatsby is someone who just hides behind his lavish lifestyle, the purpose of which isn't surface-level at all. Sure, the rich people of the city come to take advantage of his hospitality. They drink his alcohol, eat his foods, trash his place, all the while having no idea that the party isn't for them at all.
    No, Gatsby is far more selfish than that. He thinks himself as similar to a god, with a significant destiny. And that vision he has for his life includes Daisy, his one true love. But alas, they missed their chance, and Gatsby has since gone on a mission that takes him five years to accomplish - another chance at winning Daisy's heart, this time for good.
    The first time he sees her after all those years is one of the most remarkable scenes of the film, both in style and performance. DiCaprio uses his neighbor Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire) to set up a rendezvous with Daisy (played by Carrie Mulligan). DiCaprio perfectly plays the moment as Gatsby starts fumbling around or getting nervous. Yet after their initial awkward moment passes later in the scene, DiCaprio and Mulligan are graceful together, their feelings rekindled in spiritful scenes by both actors.
    Maguire's Carraway was acceptable, but certainly not to DiCaprio's level. Maguire does seem better suited to be a supporting actor, though. Maybe he should stick to it.
    Page 2 of 2 - Not a lot of the rest of the cast get too many moments to shine, save for Daisy's husband, played by Joel Edgerton. He had two great scenes, one of which he argues with Daisy about whether she really loved him, and the other a scene that pits him against Gatsby in a car chase. The two exchange quips of well-written dialogue as they challenge each other to a car race, though far more is tantalizingly said between the lines (it was a great spot in the book, too).
    One poorly executed moment of translating the book to the screen was with the big billboard and the ever-watchful glasses overlooking the slums, where bad secrets are being kept. The glasses were far too corny and unrealistic, which loses its impact, something that was meaningful to the book.
    There also wasn't enough yellow in the movie, a color symbolic of the youthful, unabashed hope that both the book's and film's Gatsby had. The movie had more cream colored clothing instead (maybe my memory of the book is a bit hazy).
    The film takes the audience through a weird opening act as Carraway first moves to the city and succumbs to its lively extracurricular activities. These early scenes take the audience on an acid trip of abstract cinematography and overdone soundtracks, though not too overdone.
    But the meat of the film was executed well and drove home the characterization of Gatsby, all the way to the dramatic ending (which I won't spoil if you haven't seen it or read it). Very entertaining film.
    Jeremy Costello is the Gazette Sports Editor and the Entertainment Guru. Follow him on Twitter @jdotco.

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