Last night I went and saw The Great Gatsby with some friends. I must admit, I have never read the book so this review will only take the movie into account. This movie left me feeling like the most unfulfilled life is the lonely one. Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), is a self-made man with riches, charm, and mystery that makes him popular and intriguing to many people in the upper class society of the 1920’s New York scene. His seeming success and popularity mean nothing to him, unless it helps him to acquire his romance interest, Daisy (Carey Mulligan).
The story of infidelity, greed, and lust for power is told from the perspective of Tobey Maguire’s Nick Carraway. It seems nothing will deter Gatsby from retrieving his lost love Daisy even though it would require her to leave her family and become a willing part of Gatsby’s alternative reality that he thinks he controls with his money, charm, and allure. The movie goes a little to far with the idea that all of the parties, excessive spending, and lavish living is “all for Daisy.” Gatsby is truly more in love with the idea of someone being in love with his man-made recreation of himself because he hates who he truly is, James Gatz. How can one give love when they do not even love themselves? Do Jesus’ words “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:31) share the opposite end of the saying that if one does not love or appreciate the person that they have been made by God to be, that they can have any part in loving another person? Not only do these questions need to be raised for Gatsby, but in our own lives.
The American dream is built off of success, wealth, and consumerism as the ultimate aims of the good life. Even though this might seem satisfying to pursue, where does it ultimately end? Betrayal, bitterness, loneliness, even death. All of these results have an impact on everyone in the community.
What I fear most in my own life is the accumulation of knowledge, things, and “success” at the sake of real relationships of intimacy where Christ is honored because he is the source of my identity and I can participate in fellowship with others to struggle through sanctification to love my neighbors as myself until that day “when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2) and all is made right with the world again. I am no escapist, but I do acknowledge my brokenness and inability to do well to confess my own need for God and to stop trying to build my kingdom, but to focus on his.
Director Baz Luhrmann did not truly excite me with his overdramatic flair and exhausting camera angles. I would watch this movie again, but probably when it comes out on Redbox.
Check out this article from Christianity Today: