To start, as the film begins, Nick Carraway, is talking to a psychiatrist in some sort of “insane asylum.” This seems to be out of character for the narrator as Nick is seen as someone who is very thoughtful and careful. In the novel, there was no impression that his experience with Jay Gatsby led him to be mentally unsound. However, the film portrayed Carraway to be “on the edge of crazy” after Gatsby’s death, which was a bit of a stretch.
One thing left out of the film was Jordan Baker’s romance, or fling, with Nick. Really, the audience never gets to know Jordan’s character, which might make her more likeable. In the novel she is dishonest, but the film did not really portray that, much less the romance between her and Nick. Though they always seemed to find each other, their feelings were not as obvious as in the novel, which could partially result in the fact that the book was told by Nick and the film was not.
Daisy is not portrayed as careless in the film. In the novel, her carelessness is what truly ends her relationship with Gatsby and his life and is the reason she and Tom deserve each other. In the film, she is more desperate and weak than shallow and confident.
Another difference would be that at the beginning of the film, Nick notices Jay Gatsby standing at the end of his dock, staring at a green light flashing from across the water. This makes obvious, just a little too soon, that he is longing for something. This gives extra foreshadowing to his desire to be with Daisy again, which is not supposed to be revealed at all until after Nick goes to the party with Tom and Myrtle in New York City.
One major thing I noticed was that the music in the film was not from the 20’s at all. In fact, it was rap music, which took away from just how 20’s Gatsby’s parties were. Though this may seem trivial, it makes an impact on how an audience member may see the story in its entirety, had the not read the novel previous to viewing the film. In this same category, I could group in the bad driving. It wasn’t just the night that Daisy killed Myrtle, but in every scene with driving, it was a mess. Sure, this gave off the vibe that the 20’s were a time to party and be reckless, but it took away from the true meaning of the story.
One scene that differed from the book, mostly in setting, was Nick’s Luncheon with Meyer Wolfsheim and Gatsby. They go to an illicit liquor club, which makes sense because of the time period, but it added some unnecessary flare to a scene that already had much else to focus on.
In the scene where Gatsby and Tom Buchanan are arguing about Daisy, the novel implies that he is more maddeningly angry than childishly frustrated. He is suggested to look like he wants to kill Tom, but instead yells at him to “shut up.” Though this adds to the understanding that Gatsby was childish, it takes away from the intensity and seriousness of the scene.