Book snob rule #1: The book is always better than the movie.
Reality: I enjoyed the movie version of The Great Gatsby more than the book. *gasp*
(Note: I do abide by Book snob rule #2: Always read the book first. Let’s not go crazy here.)
I read The Great Gatsby back in 2011. I liked it. I liked it a lot. I did not love it. I don’t have a well thought out explanation as to why, but it didn’t grab me or shake me up enough to get into my favourites.
The movie, though? It grabbed me. All the stuff people are bitching about, the music, the over-the-top visuals, the casting, the framing device, it all just worked. Yes, I definitely have residual 16-year-old feelings for the Leo and Baz combo. I watched Romeo + Juliet so many times that I can still quote it pretty accurately, and I wore out the soundtrack on CD. But it’s more than that.
For me, the anachronisms were seamless and worked as a commentary in the vein of the more things change, the more they stay the same. The exception is the scene where a car-full of twenties flapper-types are listening to H.O.V.A, which was so jarring that people in the theatre laughed. I’m going to tell myself it was an homage to the music video for the same song, where Jay-Z rides around town on a parade float (incidentally, Jay-Z looks SO YOUNG in that video.)
I also loved that the movie was very faithful to the book. Passages are highlighted on screen as Nick writes the manuscript for The Great Gatsby as part of his recovery from a nervous breakdown. My most loved and hated lines* were highlighted this way, which made the movie experience very reminiscent of my reading experience.
I notice that the most savage reviews are American, while the Canadian press has been a little kinder. I think Gatbsy is so enshrined in the American consciousness that no adaptation will be good enough. For this Canadian, Leo + Baz + great literature + 2.5 hours in the fancy grown up theatre (they serve you drinks!) and I’m happy.
*My favourite line. Super obvious, but somehow, I’d never read this, and didn’t know the ending, when I read the book. Reading this for the first time knocked me on my ass.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
My least favourite line. First of all, what the hell else are you going to blossom like? Second of all, I just can’t with the flower/vagina metaphor. It’s a little too Summer’s Eve for me.
At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.