“Part Gatsby, part Howard Hughes and a dash of Frank Abignale Jr, DiCaprio pulls together a character that we as an audience can buy into rather than simply look down on in disgust.”
Wolf of Wall Street Review
By Matt Allen
Wolf of Wall Street (2014)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau
Director(s): Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter(s): Terence Winter
Running Time: 180 mins
Sharply dressed men extorting money from honest, law abiding citizens – all the while making sure to keep one step ahead of the Feds – occasionally hanging some degenerate from a balcony and bribing the police to look the other way. No, we’re not talking about Goodfellas…no, not Casino either. We are, of course, referring to Scorsese’s latest collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio: The Wolf of Wall Street.
After the stock market crash of 1987, intrepid chancer and all round piece of shit, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), sets out to turn chump change into big bucks with a scheme so morally bankrupt it puts Gordon Gekko to shame.
Despite sharing many similar qualities with his 90s era gangster flicks (DiCaprio’s narration alone is enough to evoke memories of Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill) The Wolf of Wall Street is in fact a very different film for Scorsese. This is most evident in the abundance of comedy that flows through the picture.
Belfort’s own memoirs, on which the film is based, provide material for scenes of sheer hedonism that verge on the grotesque and often the only sane reaction is to laugh. But, when he’s not launching midgets like lawn darts across his office or attempting to land a helicopter while out of his mind on various pharmaceuticals, Belfort is a study in moral corruption and good old fashioned greed.
DiCaprio gives a performance that we have come to expect from of his back catalogue. Part Gatsby, part Howard Hughes and a dash of Frank Abignale Jr, DiCaprio pulls together a character that we as an audience can buy into rather than simply look down on in disgust.
It is a pity however as, yet again, it would appear that Leo will fall shy of receiving that little golden statuette that has eluded him (often very unfairly) so many times in the past. This does not seem to be his year as, despite the fact that his performance is incredible, it is unlikely to stand up against the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor for example.
Scorsese is deliberate in standing back and, instead of taking the role of moral arbiter, invites us to consider the fact that Belfort, despite his misdemeanours, is still ultimately worshipped by many as a guru. The sobering thought that the virtuous qualities that most men cling to in defence of their ordinary lives are likely to prove as flimsy as a one dollar note once the keys to the kingdom are dropped into their laps, lingers beyond the closing scene. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and today money is power.
At a full three hours, The Wolf of Wall Street is almost in danger of outstaying its welcome but any complaints your arse cheeks might make are drowned out by this piercing dark comedy peppered with an outstanding cast.