Today was Jonathan's 22nd birthday and - due to me not really bothering last year - I decided to go all out and make this year a great birthday. So I set a small plan in motion - photoshoot, dinner and a movie. And I'm glad to say it worked out!
For dinner I made orange and maple glazed chicken with dressed salad leaves, followed by chocolate velvet cream pie - Jon's favourite pudding. It went down really well, which was a great thing for me because I have never made CVCP before and was a bit nervous about it. I have a few improvements for next time, but it's just minor tweaks thankfully.
And so we come to the movie that we saw, which was The Great Gatsby, starring Carey Mulligan, Leonardo di Caprio and Tobey Maguire. It's based upon the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and until now I had no idea it even existed - shows how much I know about America literature! It's set in 1922 and describes the life of Jay Gatsby (di Caprio), a self-made billionaire living a lie for the sake of the woman he loves. However, it all goes horrendously wrong and Gatsby ends up dead in his swimming pool as his true love leaves with her husband and daughter.
Leonardo is a terrific actor in this film, and manages to portray the complex facets of Gatsby exceptionally well. However, I found his accent troubling in that he seemed to morph between a British accent and an American accent. As a man who was raised in North Dakota and taught to be a gentleman by a fellow American, you would expect an American accent. That aside, his portrayal of Gatsby was definitely one worth watching - moody, brooding, yet somehow vulnerable and extremely loveable. You can easily see why he would dream big and aim even bigger, but also how the edifice of his lofty ambition could come crashing down around him.
To Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), his one true love, we therefore go. Carey is one of those actresses who one cannot really imagine playing a strong woman, but luckily this is not required in The Great Gatsby. Instead she plays a typical 1920s wife and mother who knows what she wants out of life but does not really have the wherewithal to go after her desires. She is a rather vapid, wan character who, whilst being in love with Gatsby, does not really have the inner strength to act upon her love for Gatsby. By not admitting to her love for him, she ultimately plays a part in his death at the hands of another woman's husband (Mr Buchanan has numerous mistresses).
And finally, we turn to Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire). Tobey plays the rather unwilling accomplice of Gatsby and Buchanan and is instrumental in their reunion after 5 years apart. He arrives in America to sell bonds and ends up being the guest of Gatsby, as well as keeping his cousin's affair as discreet as possible. Unfortunately, his health deteriorates following the death of Gatsby and he ends up in a health facility, where he writes the story of his experiences.
The film as a whole was well written and well thought out, including the encapsulation of the roaring 20s. I was a little sceptical of the soundtrack, especially as it involved Beyoncé and Jay-Z, among others, but it was a moderate success. Some songs such as Back to Black and New York (Alicia Keys) were not really relevant to the film or the era, but it was good to hear Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, as that is really the 'iconic' piece of music from the 1920s.
I also liked the fact that the costumes were the same as they were in the 1920s - flapper dresses, Art Deco head-dresses, low-heeled shoes and - of course - women dripping in jewellery. The men are dapper with sharp suits, pinstriped waistcoasts and some truly gorgeous cravats. If I'm honest, the costumes were my favourite part of the film (apart from the story) and I truly love it.
So, essentially, go see the film - I'll be buying it on DVD and reading the book!