Jeez, I can’t believe I finished F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby all the way back in September and haven’t 1) finished my next book I, Robot or 2) gotten around to reviewing the movie version which was written by Francis Ford Coppola and stars Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston, Karen Black and Bruce Dern. Part of the reason is that it took me a while to watch the flick, part of the reason is that I wanted to get my review of Mr. S up and part of the reason is that I found the movie to kind of suck which is too bad because, even though I’m discovering I don’t like Mia Farrow, I do love me some Redford. Luckily, I took a bunch of notes to remind me why I didn’t (I’m sure you’re ecstatic to hear that).
My biggest problem with the movie is how sparse it is. Sure it’s filled with interesting scenery and characters, but it felt way too content to just float around without really getting to the story. Maybe that’s a stylistic choice on the part of director Jack Clayton to show how different rich people act than normal people (they’ve got time to quietly follow a woman across the country and start throwing parties kind of near where they live just to maybe get her to show up), but it’s not a choice I found to be all that interesting. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I turned the movie off. The other was Farrow who plays Daisy much spacier than I read her, which jives with what George Jacobs said about the actress in his book Mr. S, she wasn’t stupid, in fact pretty cunning, but she was a total space cadet. I hated that read on the character and couldn’t fathom why Gatsby would be so obsessed with this vapid annoyance of a person.
Speaking of Gatsby, I liked Robert Redford’s version of the character enough, but they handled his eventual reveal in such a corny manner. You’d see him staring off into the sunset, completely silhouetted and a few other lame gags like that. It was all too much. On the other hand, I really liked how Sam Waterston handled Nick with that perfect semi-interested detachment that I saw when reading the book.
I’ve read that Baz Luhrman is working on a new adaptation of the book with Leonardo DiCaprio potentially set as Gatsby. I love what Luhrman did with Romeo & Juliet, but can’t really get into Moulin Rouge, so I’m excited enough about this one. DiCaprio has impressed me recently, but I really think the strength of any Gatsby adaptation rests squarely on the shoulders of whoever’s playing Daisy. You have to buy that this millionaire would not only fall in love with this woman, but stay devoted to her from a far for so many years, but she also has to ultimately disappoint in the end. That’s not small accomplishment for an actress and hopefully whoever they get (Amanda Seyfried? Carey Mulligan?) will be able to do both convincingly because Mia Farrow just didn’t do it for me.