Every Friday night, Movies.com sends cinephiles (and newlyweds) Sarah and Joe Piccirillo to see a film. Afterwards, they answer a few questions about it. Below is their discussion.
Synopsis: In Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the classic novel, wide-eyed Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) meets the mysterious Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and becomes drawn into the millionaire’s obsession for his old love, Daisy (Carey Mulligan).
Was this a good date movie?
Joe: If you hated reading classic literature in high school, imagine instead having it performed as a 3-hour musical.
Sarah: Would you consider this a musical?
Joe: I would. It has the lavish productions but without the singing.
Sarah: I don’t even know what the hell this was, let alone whether it was a good date movie.
Joe: Right about the time they introduced us to Daisy and Jordan on a couch obscured by giant gauze while hip-hop played in the background, I wanted to throw things at the screen. So no, not a good date movie.
Was Baz Luhrmann the right person to adapt the novel?
Joe: I think Luhrmann would be better suited to making a screen adaptation of Cirque du Soleil or a pinball machine.
Sarah: I felt like he captured the lavishness and boozed-up frenzy that Nick encounters, but he totally whiffed on themes of the self-made man and the American Dream. In other words, the stuff that makes the book enduring.
Joe: Right. It seems his interpretation of the novel is less about the emptiness of excess and more about, “OMG, Look at those dancing ladies!” and, “Ooh, did you see those pretty flowers?!” I think Luhrmann is Daisy.
Sarah: Yes! By default, the attention to detail is more a celebration of excess than a criticism of it. In an awesomely tone-deaf tie-in, Tiffany is selling a replica of Daisy’s headband for $200K. Why skewer the idle rich when you can be the idle rich?
What drove you nuts?
Sarah: The tedious melodrama. It’s theatrical and not relatable. It drove me bonkers.
Joe: The elaborate and long party sequences. I get it. You like to party.
Sarah: Nick’s voiceovers, which were a dead ringer for Peter Falk in The Princess Bride. Wrong tone.
Joe: When lines from the book were thrown up on screen in full sky-writer mode. If you’re going to commit to a movie, you shouldn’t also read from the book.
Sarah: When the movie blows any suspense about Gatsby’s backstory.
Joe: If you use 3D for a love story – and it’s not porn – what are you doing?
Sarah: There’s no way to avoid the awkwardness of “old sport.”
What will you be thinking about tomorrow?
Sarah: Oh my god the drinks that Nick and Gatsby had at the speakeasy – there were little pearl ice cubes filling the glass, and I can’t wait until the hipster mustache whiskey bars start using them.
Joe: Wait. Are you being sarcastic? I can’t tell.
Sarah: Both. I’m making fun of the bars but I totally want the ice cubes.
Joe: For me, the sanitarium scenes were cool. It’s a great writer’s retreat – you get lodging, breakfast, and notes on your manuscript.
Sarah: Baz Lurhmann thinks that a sanitarium is a fine stand-in for the Midwest. Burn.
Joe: When I read the book, I felt like I was reading a cool, modern story. Watching this, it felt like a movie about an old, washed-up book.
Sarah: I think I would have been nauseous if we’d watched it in 3D. I almost threw up watching it in 2D. Pass.
Joe: You have a sexy way with words. Let’s put it this way: when the only character in the movie you root for is the philandering, racist woman-beater, you’ve made a serious production mistake. Skip it.
Sarah: Now who’s being sexy?
Sarah and Joe are writers/editors who live in Boston. They met in a bar and married within a year. They love to argue about early Woody Allen films and old romantic comedies. They both agree to hate musicals.