First-time writer-director Elizabeth Wood’s White Girl sets out to be a Great Gatsby for the 21st century — and perhaps in the process, to depict the orgastic future that Fitzgerald mentioned at the story’s end. College sophomore Leah (Morgan Saylor, gung-ho) arrives in NYC shortly before the start of classes, and promptly strikes up an affair with her neighborhood drug dealer Blue (Brian Marc, impossibly sweet) — but not before a coked-up tryst with the guy who gave her a magazine internship. (Leah has numerous sexual encounters, each with its own tenor and interpersonal dynamic: sometimes celebratory, sometimes intimate, sometimes mercenary…) Blue is so smitten with his pale shorty that he decides better himself by expanding his operation. Trouble ensues, whereupon the plucky blonde declares that she “always figures it out” and…well, you can probably guess. Wood doesn’t dig too deeply into her characters, instead relying on verve, style, hard partying, and sweet emotion to make you mourn for the optimism and audacity of youth. It mostly works, thanks in part to a committed cast and a surprisingly clear directorial eye. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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