The Wolf Of Wall Street takes the autobiography of Jordan Belfort, an infamous Wall Street stock broker with questionable methods, and puts it to celluloid with Martin Scorsese’s help. It’s a tale of a meteoric rise, infinite wealth and debauchery. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as our protagonist, with Jonah Hill and two hundred others in supporting roles.
It’s nice to see Scorsese back on form here, after the disappointing Shutter Island and Hugo. He’s made a film with balls; it’s big, it’s loud, it’s offensive. DiCaprio is giving it his all, no holds barred, and why not? It worked for him in Django Unchained, it’s worked here too.
This is a movie about excesses, in its plot and in its production. No film has ever used the word ‘fuck’ more, save for a documentary about the word ‘fuck’. The runtime is a solid three hours. There are so many naked women in it, they become part of the set. Every shot seems to be encrusted with cars, boats, planes, helicopters, diamonds, rolls of cash, drugs, hookers… you name it.
The Wolf of Wall Street has arrested my senses. It’s hard hitting and I’m still reeling from the blow. It’s hilarious, but disgusting. It’s a tale of greed, yes, but somehow it feels like it’s not entirely railing against it. Scorsese is trying to make us see this lifestyle from Belfort’s point of view, and much like all the people he sells to, Belfort begins to win us over.
He does pull back from the brink at the right time though. A very long, painful sequence of a drug addled DiCaprio trying to crawl into his car whilst barely able to move is sobering. It’s sickening and sad, but it’s also very funny.
That’s what I loved the most about The Wolf of Wall Street - the conflicting tones it gives off. Nobody is trying to make a point, it’s not a cautionary tale. Yes, there’s a moral to the story (in the sense that Belfort is a trainwreck because of his lifestyle) and no, it won’t shatter your sense of right and wrong, but isn’t it fun to see the good side of being bad?
For example, Matthew McConaughey has a cameo near the start where he talks to a young DiCaprio about how Wall Street works. He’s a coke addicted maniac who sells chaos to unsuspecting people in order to turn a comission. He should be the worst, but he’s a character you want to get to know more than anyone else in the film.
The successful will see The Wolf of Wall Street as an homage to their ‘glorious’ past. Some might see it as glorifying an unsavoury lifestyle. Others might take it as a cynical reminder that the rich can get away with anything (this is sort of where I land).
Whatever your take on life is, I can’t recommend this enough. It’s one of the best of 2013. Yes it’s long, but down it in one and take the hit, it’s a wild ride not to be missed.