Don’t know whether it says more about me or the film that I still find the Young and Beautiful segments so touching. This takes every hint of discomfort and pulp from the original text and intensifies them to their fullest extent- a line-by-line adaptation this may be, but it’s much less interested in any notions of adaptation than it is in rendering a rather austere text grotesque, sometimes overwhelmingly so.
Unlike Mann’s concern with similar digital textures of a period piece like Public Enemies to create a realm of the hyperreal, Luhrmann’s concerns are with amplifying the artificiality of his plastic images, coating everything in an oversaturated golden sheen and overblown contrast. Of course, none of this is, as sincere as his approach to Gatsby himself may be, represents a genuine belief in the power of these images to represent anything other than excess. It builds, filling with steam and sweat, until there seems to be no direction left except implosion. Here, Gatsby’s death is not a tragic turn of fate; it’s inevitable. First as tragedy, then as farce.