Ostentatious wealth, exclusive Hamptons soires, the lure and laxity of the nouveau-riche lifestyle: Of course F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby would translate well to the rap world's bling. Art directed to a witty, high sheen of sumptuousness, G is that rarest of adaptations—a loose, decidedly unfaithful spin on the original text, but one that still manages to nail central themes in a way that no previous version has. Perhaps it's as simple as a reduction to essentials: Just as Guy Maddin's ingenious 2002 ballet version of Dracula identified the core fear of Bram Stoker's novel in languorous sleepwalking, G finds the cold heart of Fitzgerald's classic in constant, MTV-ready partying.
As in the book, the decadence seems to stem from a potent, almost mythical presence. Here it's Summer G (the dignified Jones), a multimillionaire rap producer and label founder who, for all his riches, still aches—in a supercool fashion—for Sky (Maxwell), the one that got away. Sky's now married to an unfaithful financial advisor (Underwood), but after a journalist cousin reintroduces them, the spark reignites, with deleterious results. Occasionally, G's clever hip-hop parallels get in the way of clean storytelling, as when Summer inexplicably seems about to storm out of his mansion with a baseball bat to knock some heads. But the movie's keen sense of place (shot on location in the Hamptons) and mostly understated performances carry it to a worthy finish.—Joshua Rothkopf