The Wolf of Wall Street

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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. (Source: IMDb)

Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, has certainly caused a stir among the critical masses. On one hand, this tale of excess – both mental and physical – has been lauded in certain circles; it has earned a Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for DiCaprio and Hill respectively, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Oscars 2014. And then on the other hand, a number of dissenters have pilloried the movie for being misogynistic, vulgar, navel-gazing and ‘boring’ (last one being Mark Kermode, 2014).

I am not sure if this says something about my personality, but I found The Wolf of Wall Street and, more significantly, Jordan Belfort, immensely compelling. Even when he is acting his most debauched, there was a part of me that felt a modicum of fist-pumping machismo for the character. Perhaps it is my fondness of DiCaprio that I only strayed from the side of the protagonist once – during a scene with his daughter – yet that is not to take anything away from a performance that would in any other year be a dead-cert for Best Actor; unfortunately for Leo he is up against Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave. The energy DiCaprio brings to the movie is nothing short of incredible. In the past, he always embodied his characters, but there was the ‘he was Jack in Titanic‘ aspect to his on-screen presence. It’s thanks to his talent and Scorsese’s direction in The Wolf of Wall Street, that I feel this Leo’s coming of age role, and now he can be considered as one of the modern greats. Turns from Jonah Hill, Naomi Lapaglia (in her first role), as well as Rob Reiner and Jon Favreau were all brilliant, and there was even a fantastic cameo from a certain favourite around here, Matthew McConaughey, as Belfort’s career role model, Mark Hanna.

At three hours long, one could expect oneself to go on a mental stroll, however the pace, biopic-nature and playful yet dark tone of the movie is very reminiscent of Goodfellas, a comparison which has undoubtedly been drawn, but is relevant nonetheless. There are scenes of cringeworthy humour, shocking drug misuse and abuse, and a lens that falls often on bare naked ladies (no, not the 1990s pop band). However, I don’t for one second feel that Scorsese’s camera is any way misogynistic; the excess of Belfort’s life is a literal orgy of naked flesh, drugs, and money, with one capitalist fist-pumping scene after another. Yet, even though there are some women in this movie that are tools for Belfort’s pleasure, I feel the leering ends up being at Belfort while he is of his face on drug cocktails (and more drastic these scenes become), and not at the breasts on screen; they are very matter of fact breasts, if you will.

The Wolf of Wall Street was a fantastically fun movie to watch. It ticked all my taboo boxes, one of which I didn’t even know I had, and albeit for one scene of genuine darkness and abyss-staring, it was a romp and a half. It won’t win any of the Oscars for which it is nominated, but in an ideal world, 12 Years would have been released this later this year and Leo would get the recognition he truly deserves.

IH

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Categories: General Reviews

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10 replies

  1. I really need to see this movie now. Great review.

  2. Love your comment about the leering being at Belfont rather than by him.

    • Thanks! I think some people are in danger of letting their politics get in the way of what is a romping drama. Belfort is disgusting by the end of the movie, but I was still there, on the edge of my seat, waiting for the car crash! Quite literally…

  3. I want to know which taboo box you didn’t know you had. Lol. Great review – totally agree. : ) I thoroughly enjoyed this film & Leo’s performance and didn’t really “hate” the character other than during the part you mentioned with the daughter. I’d LOVE to see him get an Oscar for this but, again, I’m afraid this won’t be his year.

  4. It is a long movie, but you know what? If you are able to sit through it all, then you’ll most likely have a ball with it all. Or at least I did in my case. Others, I’m not always so sure about. Good review.

  5. I think the film was really funny, and cool. Another top performance from Leo, and Hill was bloody brilliant!

  6. haha Terrific review man. You should coin that term, “matter-of-fact breasts.” lol that’s genius. And exactly how I felt about it. There was this level of debauchery on display that was not being judged by Scorsese, but instead it was left for us to stare in awe and think how awful these people were. That’s why he had to show so much, if anyone thought this treatment was “awesome,” they should go ahead and apply for a job in penny stocks. 🙂

    • So very true. He gets more and more dark, but it is definitely a case of Scorsese injecting pace and some black comedy into these scenes; the stairs when he’s on Lemmons…so darkly comic and pathetic.

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