The Great Gasp

From my title, you probably guess that I’m not a fan of the movie ‘The Great Gatsby’. I’m not sure if it’s because the first half of the movie felt like a to Moulin Rouge in terms of over the top glitz and glamour. The dancing, loud music and fireworks literally making me gasping for air. Well, it’s the same director, Baz Luhrmann and in Gatsby, he was one of the screenwriters as well. Although it’s not fair to criticise the book without reading it, it made me wonder how great an impact this ‘Great American Novel’ can have on me? Sad to say, there’s not much impact from the movie so far. I guess the reason being, in today’s society, we are simply too exposed to such plots and stories. I won’t even call it a love story as it is too fleeting and one-sided. Probably more of deluded obsession than love.

Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo Di Caripo) was obsessed with his former lover, Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan). But Daisy was married to Thomas “Tom” Buchanan (played by Joel Edgerton) when Jay went to war. Jay, after making himself a fortune dealing with illegal stuff, bought a mansion directly across the waters from Daisy’s, and threw extravagant parties open to all, in the hope that Daisy drops in. Jay’s love for Daisy was almost too fairy tale-like. Daisy on the other hand, was swept off her feet with the profligate life of Jay. To the extend that Jay was unsure whether Daisy really loves him. In one of the deleted scenes, Jay did sound out his concerns to Nick, cousin of Daisy (played by Tobey Maguire) that Daisy’s voice was full of money.

But he seems awfully hopeful that he and Daisy will eventually live happily ever after. But Daisy didn’t live up to that expectation. She had cold turkey when she realised Jay might after all be a con-man instead of the noble man that he claims to be. After much persuasion from Tom, she decided to leave with Tom. What does Daisy really see in Jay? She misses all the sacrifices and hardship he underwent to reach out to her. What does Jay really see in Daisy, other than her pretty face? Lana Del Ray is frequently in the background singing the ominous question – ‘Would you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?‘ But if love is based on looks (the facial and material), which seems so for Jay and Daisy, it is doomed to fail when looks or wealth fade in time. The castle-like mansion on the hill increasingly resembled a castle in the air as the story progresses.

I don’t deny the fact that looks and money often play some role in most love relationships. But they shouldn’t form the foundation of any relationship, not even friendship. If ‘The Great Gatsby’ has any cautionary message, it won’t so much be about the decadence of the era, but that true love and personal happiness shouldn’t be conditioned by mere looks and wealth.