Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Moira WalshMay 08, 2013

By the time I saw The Great Gatsby, it had already opened, and at least some critical notices were suggesting that it was a "bomb." Perhaps it was my lack of expectations that caused me to be pleasantly surprised. Now I admit that Robert Redford, through no particular fault of his own, is all wrong in the title role. I don't know whether at best Jay Gatsby (born Gatz), the mysterious and probably crooked tycoon who was destroyed by his obsession with a flighty millionairess, could be made convincing for today's audiences. In any case the main point about F. Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby was that he was an obsessed outsider, trying to buy his way into the circles of the rich and social. Redford has the misfortune to look as though he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and educated at Harvard.

Otherwise, I had no serious quarrel with the film's conception. Forty years ago, Fitzgerald wrote a stark little contemporary fable. But today it is a period piece and the elaborate period trappings are necessary. (And besides, the film's decor, in the broadest sense, is breathtaking and in itself worth the price of admission.) The performances by such people as Mia Farrow, as the despicable heroine, Daisy, Bruce Dern as her loutish husband, and especially Sam Waterston as Nick, the narrator-onlooker, are surprisingly good. And despite the heavy trappings the story is still a grimly arresting cautionary tale. But I wonder if the film can possibly live up to the aura created in the public's mind by what may very well be the most elaborate and omnipresent promotional campaign in screen history.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

In 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that 'Just Love,' by Margaret Farley, R.S.M., could not be used in Catholic classrooms. It was a different era in the church.
James T. KeaneNovember 28, 2023
Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Pope Francis embrace after visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem on May 26, 2014. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The Second Vatican Council helped establish a bond of friendship between Catholics and Jews. What is the state of that unity after the Oct. 7 terrorist massacre?
David MeyerNovember 28, 2023
On the advice of his doctors, Pope Francis has “with great regret” canceled his visit to Dubai for the COP28 conference on climate change, the Vatican announced on Tuesday evening, Nov. 28.
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 28, 2023
Pope Francis has decided to punish one of his highest-ranking critics, Cardinal Raymond Burke, by revoking his right to a subsidized Vatican apartment and salary.