The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013.
Directed by Martin Scorsese.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, and Jean Dujardin.
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
Wild obscenities and lavish vulgarity litter The Wolf of Wall Street just as greed itself flows around the famous New York location. A film not for the weak of heart nor the sensitive flowers, Wolf is an unrelenting and unapologetic look at the deceit, immorality, flamboyance and total lack of “giving a sh*t” at the heart of capitlism, whilst primarily being a hilariously enjoyable ride – for the most part.
Based on the book of the same name, Wolf is a look at the extravagant and decadent lifestyle of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a New York City stockbroker who sets up his own brokerage and gets filthy, filthy… FITHY RICH. Achieved by breaking the law, without shame nor remorse, but a Fort Knox load of contempt for the law and those who he scams to earn his fortune.
Martin Scorsese’s direction is energetic and indefatigable, blitzing through events at an engrossing pace that leaves a viewer sick at the acts they have seen, akin to several rides aboard Space Mountain. This changes in the last hour, however, and the film begins to move at a slower, and ultimately tedious pace that seems to just never end. By this point in the film as the axe begins to fall on Belfort and his heinous lifestyle we are done with the man and with the story, hoping for swift justice and the falling of the cards. Which comes, but Belfort never really seems to suffer, a point highlighted finely by the final scene of the film.
For as repulsive as Belfort is, DiCaprio is equal parts thrilling in the role, giving an outstanding performance that oozes with an actor having the time of his life. DiCaprio is given free reign it seems to portray this character and he holds not back unleashing every amount of teenage abandon within him. It is a magnificent performance to behold from DiCaprio and he strikes all of the comedic tones perfectly, and in one later scene is utterly fantastic as he revels in capturing the absurdity of Belfort’s drugged up behaviour as he attempts to make his way home from a local Country Club.
DiCaprio is joined in support by Jonah Hill, a young man who has more versatility than a Swiss Army knife, who shines in a comedic performance. There is a nice supporting cast here but this is all DiCaprio’s film, however a brief cameo from Matthew McConaughey will leave you wanting more from him and it is a shame he only surfaces in the first act.
As hilarious as it is at times, unfortunately for as charismatic a character as Belfort is he is equal parts repugnant, and this hurts the film, although though not to any great extent, when we fail to see him truly suffer for his actions. Yet this is not quite the fault of Scorsese, and perhaps more the fault of the American Justice system, for when one is rich, how much do they really suffer when the hand of the law lands on their shoulder? The answer is not very, which Scorsese captures with a spot of light tennis.
Nor should Scorsese have to make any real comment on Belfort’s behaviour, as the actions present in the film don’t really require there to be one; for if Belfort’s actions throughout do not shock, sicken or drive your moral outrage through the roof then this is not the directors fault, and the tone of the film itself hammers this home.
There is an odd placement of a scene at the end of the film, however, which may point to the director not quite finding Belfort’s actions so unjust if interpreted such a way. FBI Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) whom brought down Belfort is in the latter stages of the film offered a bribe by Belfort; refusing, Belfort goes in to attack mode and questions how great the Agent’s life is and how much does he really enjoy riding home on the subway with a sweaty posterior earning a lowly wage. This scene is played out at the end of the film with Agent Denham staring at an advertisement for stockbrokers on the subway with a sad, disillusioned look on his face. Interpreted one way one might think that Scorsese is giving some credibility to Belfort’s actions. Or is he simply pondering; “money talks. And there’s not a damn thing I can do about it”.
The film is beautifully crafted yet can at times feel too excessive, which may just be the point, however it is pushed just a little too far at times and it can become quite nauseating. It is also overly long at 180 minutes, with the last hour being a bit of a slog to the finish. Yet none of this does too much serious harm to a film from a filmmaker that, at 71, has infinitely more energy and enthusiasm than many of his younger peers, and whose talents still have plenty yet to give.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★