The Incorruptible Dream
The Great Gatsby
Review by Ross Anthony

Filmmakers fashion this great American novel into a 3D spectacle. Director Baz Luhrmann, of lavish "Moulin Rouge" fame, settles for nothing less than over-the-top visuals. Apparently, he's decided that 2D isn't enough "D" for Gatsby's bigger-than-life character. Large, glittery, adorned and feathered, Gatsby's parties rock the screen with flair, fervor, indulgence, wine, dancing, and song -- which, btw, is hip hop (a bold daring choice for a period piece set in the twenties). While I'm not a huge fan of hip hop, I applaud the choice here to inject the party vibe directly into audiences. Also, cinematically artfully done: the automobile sequences, the orchestration of servants and curtains, and the NY city apartment. Art direction on this film soars!

Baz weaves words. He chooses to emphasize certain quotes from the book by scribbling them out on screen in elegant typographic motion as Nick Caraway, the film's narrator and fictional writer of the story, types them.

That said, the film doesn't quite live up to these poetic phrases. The Gatsby arc seems overly simplified here. Juicy nuances sans development leave the book quotes without film support. Hence, they look pretty, but lack dramatic impact. The same is true of the acting. While DiCaprio and Maguire are both fine actors, their performances don't rise much above surface storytelling. Only a scene or two sport truly dramatic awe. So, it's not surprising that the characters don't endear deeply, nor do the themes resound. Still, at the end of the day, the film offers a good story with smashingly incredible visuals.

Towards the goal of giving resonance to Gatsby's main theme, kindly allow me to pose these questions: Do we (as modern individuals) tend to greenlight our dreams in the now? Or do we put them on hold until we can get all our ducks in a row? And lastly, just how many ducks ought one align before braving across the pond? Ponder that for a moment.

We all know people who have accomplished a great deal with their business ventures or marriages or personal journeys. Have you ever asked any of them what it was like to set those dreams in motion? From what I've heard, here's a sort of composite paraphrase of responses from successful people: "We promised more than we thought we could deliver - which meant we challenged ourselves to learn something we didn't know - which frightened and energized us to work hard and with focus."

Doesn't that sound a lot like life?

Further, the Gatsby story begs thought on a corollary. Once the dreamer dares to "live the dream," the dream itself takes on a life of its own. It interacts with family, friends, strangers, and the universe in beautifully unpredictable ways. To attempt to contain it, to fix it, to even expect it to stay true to our first conceptions are futile. That would be like trying to force a refracted spectrum of light back into the prism.

-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --

The Great Gatsby


  • The Great Gatsby. Copyright © 2013.
  • Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki. Directed by Baz Lurhmann. Written by Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce. Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Warner Bros.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)


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Copyright © 1998-2016 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Check out his other sites too: Author*Illustrator*Speaker, Motobookothon 2009, M9, Write Triangle, TwT. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Saturday, 18-May-2013 20:52:11 PDT