Chaotic. Outrageous. Welcome to The Wolf of Wall Street. Martin Scorsese’s latest film is the dark tale of the life of greed and corruption led by real-life Wall Street stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The film has been surrounded by controversy ever since its initial release in America and it is clear from the very first scene of the film that it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. All I will say is that it involves rowdy stockbrokers, a midget and a dartboard.
The no holds barred approach towards drug abuse, swearing and nudity from Scorsese is a brave one in today’s world and part of the reason that I found The Wolf of Wall Street so entertaining and intriguing. It really is a film like no other from its time.
Scorsese collaborates with Leonardo DiCaprio for the fifth time and to great effect. DiCaprio had held the rights to the film for years but was just waiting for Scorsese to become available so he could direct. They have a trust in one another that has led to a couple of Scorsese’s better modern-era efforts and several of DiCaprio’s best performances ever.
DiCaprio is electric throughout and delivers a performance of such high levels of energy that it is no surprise the man has taken a short break from acting. Well that and he had filmed The Great Gatsby, Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street back-to-back.
One of the most fascinating aspects of DiCaprio’s performance is the fact that he makes Jordan Belfort seem just a little bit likeable. This is a man who committed so many financial crimes for personal gain that we should hate him in the film. While obviously he is still a jerk from start to finish, DiCaprio brings a certain charm to the character of Belfort that just makes you want to see more.
Belfort is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to immoral characters in The Wolf of Wall Street. Jonah Hill puts in a career best performance as Belfort’s best friend Donnie Azoff. Hill is a very good comedic actor and he certainly gets one or two scenes here that wouldn’t feel out of place in a film like Superbad.
Margot Robbie, once a star of Australian soap Neighbours, holds her own as Belfort’s feisty wife Naomi. Rob Reiner has a hilarious introduction as Belfort’s father Max and Matthew McConaughey has a minor role as the man who shows Belfort the ropes of Wall Street, Mark Hanna. Though only a minor role, McConaughey brings his qualities to the table. Now, try and get that tune he hums out of your head;it’s near impossible.
Recently, Martin Scorsese has done films of genres that are not normally associated with him. Shutter Island was a psychological thriller and Hugo was a family film. Scorsese has done black comedy before with The King of Comedy, however, he hasn’t made a film that is laugh out loud funny like The Wolf of Wall Street. A few weeks ago, I had heard that the film was funny, but a bit like American Hustle. The Wolf of Wall Street was a lot funnier than I thought it would be.
One scene involving Belfort feeling the effects of a drug intake had the whole audience in hysterics. I felt bad for laughing so much at one point, due to the subject matter, but, then again, I found myself laughing at a lot of things that in real life are no laughing matter.
That’s what I love about Scorsese. He makes his films the way he wants to make them. You would be stupid to try and stop him.
The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese at his best. The characters, the style, the choice of music and the storytelling makes this his best film since Goodfellas. No coincidence, then, that in places The Wolf of Wall Street feels like Scorsese’s personal homage to Goodfellas.