The 2013 version looks marvellous. More than any previous version perhaps. 1 of the most visually dazzling films ever, even.
But, a good adaptation of Fitzgerald's novel?
Behind all that splendour, it's a very weak adaptation.
- Carey Mulligan is gorgeous and does have the look of a golden girl that Gatsby loves and pursues for 5 years. In this film, Daisy's portrayed in a much more positive light. In fact, all the repulsiveness of both Daisy and Tom is much toned down in this film. Mia Farrow in the 1974 may not look very pretty and may not convince the audience why Gatsby adores her for such a long time and does everything for her, but her acting compensates. Mia Farrow portrays perfectly the careless, superficial, shallow, selfish, unstable Daisy. Both the book and the 1974 version show that Daisy isn't the golden girl in Gatsby's mind and he, because she stands for his dream, loves the idolised, idealised image of her, the idea of her rather than the real Daisy. The film also leaves out the scene where Nick meets Tom and Daisy a while after Gatsby's death, where, in the novel, Daisy's still cheerful and thoughtless. The characterisation of Daisy is a crucial point, stressing on how naive, unrealistic Gatsby is and how little he knows about life. "The great Gatsby" is basically about how Gatsby builds his dream and pursues it and how the dream shatters in the end, but at the same time, also about how he's worth the whole bunch of 'them' (other people) together.
- The film's not able to explain why Daisy and Tom can't stand each other but can't leave each other. It's not love. It's because they're so alike, both are disgustingly careless and superficial.
- Joel Edgerton doesn't have the right face for Tom, mostly because he doesn't have that East Egg look. He looks ridiculous no matter what he does, and unbearably ridiculous in that monologue about him (old money) being different from Gatsby (nouveau riche).
- Tobey Maguire looks wrong for the part of Nick and more importantly, I can't stand his acting.
- Myrtle in this film has no personality.
- Jordan doesn't have a personality either. All of her important traits are removed: lying, deceitful, ambitious, pragmatic, cynical, also selfish and careless. The film mostly leaves out her relationship with Nick, doesn't show how she attracts Nick at the beginning. Neither does it show how she turns out in the end, after Gatsby's death, that after all Jordan's just like all other people, who live meaningless lives, pursue meaningless things and care about nobody but themselves.
- Gatsby's dream totally shatters in the end. This version mentions quite briefly that people go to Gatsby's parties every weekend uninvited and have fun but nobody comes to his funeral, without details such as that even Wolfshiem makes excuses and doesn't come to the funeral and that Gatsby's biological father comes to the house, looks at everything and only talks about how ambitious and aspiring James Gatz was and how proud he is of his son, without understanding anything about his own son. One may think these details are unimportant and trivial, but they put focus on how lonely and misunderstood Gatsby is, how tragic his life is and how disgusting people all are.
- It's not a good idea to have Tom tell George about the car right after seeing Myrtle's death.
- Not a good idea, either, to let Nick hear the Buchanans' plan to go away. The atmosphere of that moment, when they sit at the table and talk to each other, is more important. Their going away should be more like a surprise, i.e when Nick tries to see them, they're already gone. The audience don't need to see they pack up, look at the servant, shake their heads and then leave. The effect's gone.
- All the scenes without dialogue are mesmerising but sometimes the music simply doesn't fit. I'm under the impression that whoever's responsible for the music forgets this is a film about the 'roaring 20s'.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, in my opinion, can't beat Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby, but he should be praised- the only good actor in this film.
In short, the film may receive some awards, Oscars for example, for production and costume designs and cinematography, but everything else falls flat. A disastrous adaptation.