LAWREADER MOVIE CRITIC DOUG MILBERN REVIEWS THE NEWEST VERSION OF “THE GREAT GATSBY”

GATSBY AT BAT MAY 15,2013

The best tales concern desire & that is what The Great Gatsby is about. Like any re-make, the scrutiny of The Great Gatsby for many will be in the context of the 2 previous versions & of course the landmark American novel which each are respectively based upon. And that is where the most recent version has its strengths. Themes of private verses public self & the fine line between unconditional love & obsession are the most obvious explorations in the 2013 version.

Each of the main characters are suffering from a basic existential dilemma which essentially forces them to maintain dual identities; the public face seen by friends & family in contrast to the private one available to paramours & cronies. These mated constructs are supported by both the expectations of social propriety & the circumstance of Prohibition Era America. Gatsby’s internal conflict puts his character on both sides of the equation, being that he desires to reveal his secret love for Daisy yet his perceived set of requirements for doing so prevents from divulging his past & source of his wealth.

One secret which is easily kept is how Gatsby’s character failed, repeatedly & miserably. Within the context of the story, Gatsby’s acquired opulence in the name of love is impressively quaint. Yet the contrast between the extravagant gala’s thrown in the vain attempt to lure Daisy to his lair & how their affair proceeds once he gets her there are polemical; the lights had been turned off at the once brilliant mansion. His insistence for Daisy’s complete renunciation of having ever loved Buchanan is the completion of his obsessive attraction to her. Perhaps Daisy had become a symbol for his feelings of shame about his impoverished upbringing, she seemingly not being recognized as much beyond that. In fact, Gatsby had 3 opportunities with Daisy that he misplayed; first being when he chose to seek his fortune rather than return to her, the next was when she asked him to run away together at the party, & the third was when he pressured her into denouncing her marriage as a fraud. Three strikes, you’re out.

The weakness of the film mostly lies in the sound track; Hip Hop doesn’t retro-fit easily, if at all. The other seemingly unexplained element is the background as to why the protagonist is writing the story in a sanitarium; probably shouldn’t be casually dismissed but most likely will be by most, including yours truly.

All in all, the best version to date & an interesting movie which may do more justice to the novel than it deserves.

Douglas W. Milbern
Cincinnati, Ohio

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