There’s rarely a film that captures me so intensely that I’m drawn to the cinema more than once. If I remember correctly, the last time this happened was when James Cameron’s Titanic was released. But I was very young and, in my mind, that explains it all. But now yet another Leonardo DiCaprio film has drawn me to the cinema again and again – Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite novels. I wrote my thesis on it, spending months and months researching, analysing, and trying to understand all the intricate little details, the hopes and dreams and yearnings that make the book what it is. But when I heard that Luhrmann was making an adaptation with DiCaprio in the title role, I was pretty excited. I love Luhrmann’s work – his style, his way of storytelling, his absolute movie magic – and I believe DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of our time. But, still, I had my reservations. Experience has taught me that there are two fool-proof ways to guarantee being disappointed by a film – a) really looking forward to its release and b) really loving the book it is based on. So, yes, I was excited, but I was also a little nervous and ready to criticise.

But, already a given since I’ve been drawn back to the cinema to watch The Great Gatsby again, Luhrmann did not disappoint. The tone of his film resonates so closely with my own reading of the book – the tone of magic and hope and wishes and absolute tragedy. These may be essential qualities of the book, but I have not found them in previous adaptations – not to the extent that Luhrmann explores them. The tragedy of Gatsby, the purity of his love (which DiCaprio portrays so skilfully), the pompous excitement of this world – it all comes together so perfectly in Luhrmann’s creation! And Carey Mulligan portrays Daisy with such vulnerability that even this character becomes likeable (until the very end, that is)! There were some changes to the storyline here and there – some omissions, some additions – but none of these bothered me. The simultaneously hopeful and hopeless tone of the book that creates its magic was there, and that was all that mattered.

As with Luhrmann’s other works, music plays a large part in The Great Gatsby, and it is the haunting voice of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Young and Beautiful’ – used throughout the film, but most forcefully when Gatsby and Daisy are first reunited – that sets its tone even more firmly. ‘Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?’ Del Rey sings over various scenes of Gatsby and Daisy. Perhaps I am drawn to this song so much because the dream of eternal youth and beauty was a focus point of my thesis on The Great Gatsby and, for me, it characterises this entire world. It is this song that has haunted me over the last week and has drawn me back to the cinema. It is this song that captures the mood of the film so perfectly, the musical realisation of the essence that runs through it.

Oh yes, Luhrmann did succeed in his adaptation, his combination of words and music and images, proving yet again that he is indeed a master in his field, a master in creating fantastical worlds that stay with you long after you have left the dark confines of the movie theatre. And, who knows, I might be back in that dark space for a third time in the not-too-distant future…

If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the film or hear Del Rey’s song, check it out…