It's always disappointing when a movie starts out good and promising but just isn't able to maintain the same style- and keep my interest, all throughout.

Once the movie was just focusing on the Tobey Maguire character, I was really liking the movie and on the verge of loving it. It was like an amazing and very engaging observation of a strange, extravagant world, seen through the eyes of an ordinary guy. However once he became part of this world and other characters made their entrance and the story slowly started to shift, I lost most interest. Especially when the movie started to turn into an overblown, old fashioned, almost soap opera type of drama, with bigger than life characters and emotions in it.

Most people are able to take all kinds of different things out of the movie and its story, though these mostly seem to be people who are familiar with the book this movie got based on as well. The movie itself however isn't always doing a good job conveying its story. I was missing some depth to some of its characters and story at times and at some moments I wasn't even really sure what the movie was trying to do or say with some of its plot lines and developments. The story was lacking a clear point at the moments when I had absolutely no idea where the movie was supposed to be heading at with its story. Won't say that the movie is ever a boring one but I also can't really say that it was keeping me interested in it, all throughout.

I especially wasn't too fond of the movie its romantic aspects. Basically it's about two people who really want to be together but instead of simply being together, they run away from each other and give each other a hard time. The movie overcomplicated things, just like I'm oversimplifying the movie its love story right now. Maybe it would have worked out for me if the love story was a more cute one, with also a stronger bond- and more convincing chemistry between the Leonardo DiCaprio and the Carey Mulligan character.

I also have to say that I'm a not too big fan of Baz Luhrmann's directing style. At the start of his career, it all still was something fresh and original and that also was the main reason why I gave his earlier movies a pass. But nowadays his style just isn't as fresh anymore and it more often comes across as if he's simply being weird and unusual with his directing style, just for the sake of being weird and original. The artistic value behind it is sort of gone for me by now, though at the same time i also still have to admit that Baz Luhrmann's directing approach worked very well at times for this specific movie. Especially during the movie its more extravagant moments, this is a great movie to look at. There are lots of bright and flashy colors and a quick editing pace, which gave the movie a certain unique style and atmosphere to it. But I said it only works out well at times though. Sometimes it's definitely a bit tiring and distracting to watch but luckily during the second half of the movie, Luhrmann sort of starts to hold back some more. Nevertheless, this at all times remains a great movie, from a visual perspective. The sets and costumes are all great and along with its effects it helps to create an unique, almost fantasy like, look and overall atmosphere. 1920's New York rarely looked so colorful and as lively as it did in this movie, while actually none of it was shot in New York, or America at all.

Can't say I was too fond of some of the choices the movie made to modernize its story. Guess I can understand it trying to say that this is a story of all times, by inserting certain modern things and themes but every time I heard a pop song, using some sort of auto-tune or dubstep variety, I was taken out of the movie. It was extremely distracting and odd to see a bunch of people wearing 1920's clothes having a rave, or dance to some hot new rap songs. Sometimes its best to keep old fashioned things old fashioned, in order to allow it to work out more effectively. Lets just say that if this was a movie that gone done in '30's, shot in black & white, all '30's movie style, with some well known '30's actors and classical storytelling director involved, this perhaps would have been a movie that I would have absolutely loved.

Not much wrong with the acting though. Leonardo DiCaprio was absolutely great and I want to say it's actually one of his best roles, were it not for the fact that every role DiCaprio plays lately is an absolutely superb one. Joel Edgerton was also great and so was Tobey Maguire in the movie its first half. After that, he became sort of redundant and also got outclassed by DiCaprio, every scene they shared together.

Visually a spectacular movie but story-wise not so much!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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