2/2/14

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET - REVIEW


This year, Martin Scorsese offered us a heavy, deadly dose of sex, drugs and money in The Wolf Of Wall Street, a film following the true story of dodgy stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

It's the typical rise and fall tale except that the rise is ridiculously high and the fall is cushioned by a nice, big pillow filled with dough. Think Citizen Kane meets Scarface with a dash of Caligula. The film is fast-paced to say the least and drops you into this cocaine-infused spiral of debauchery and obscene wealth without mercy. Leonardo Di Caprio plays Belfort and, breaking the fourth wall every so often, tells us all about how he basically crooked his way into that lifestyle. The character is likeable yet also repulsive, not only because of his greedy, selfish and careless personality but because the idea of one douchebag was living it up thanks to some shady deals and phone-calls while so many were struggling to make ends meet is one that hits close to home these days. The reason why we don't hate Belfort completely and just don't wish his demise constantly is because we're curious to see how he falls on his arse and because his grotesque use of all types of speedy drugs leads to some genuinely hysterical moments. One scene that's likely to go down as one of the great drug scenes in movies is Belfort and his partner Donnie's (Jonah Hill) back-firing use of way too many old "Lemons" which they thought weren't working but which in fact had a delayed reaction: the result is hilarious.

The film isn't just a great movie, it's a great comedy and casting people like Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin and Rob Reiner certainly helped making it just that. It's a spot-on cast and easily one of Di Caprio's most confident, stand-out performances to date. The guy delivers enough charm and sleaze to give us a pretty good idea of what this guy's about pretty quickly. Whether he's making loud speeches which turn his people into adoring primitive drones, sticking candles up his bum or subtly trying to bribe Kyle Chandler's cop, this stockbroking pig is one entertaining dude and it's hard to look away or get bored by his demented, questionable antics. Margot Robbie shows up about an hour in or slightly less and becomes Jordan's sexy, ever-so-slightly vulgar pin-up girlfriend, thereby completing Jordan's quirky little "family". Belfort somehow still finds time for hookers, dodgy deals in Switzerland, and making out with Joanna Lumley of all people, though. The film does well to not be too predictable, despite the fact that we've seen that kind of story arc before, this is mostly due to the vast amount of really good, very funny little stand-out scenes which help take the film weird places you probably didn't expect it to go to: Hill's wasted Donnie attempting to masturbate in public, smoking crack with Jordan then just running out into the street, Rob Reiner's tempered introduction and a long, serious discussion involving which little people to hire in order to literally throw them across the office are highlights.

Overall, The Wolf Of Wall Street is a long Martin Scorsese movie but a great Martin Scorsese movie. It has all the energy, sharp writing, humour and iconic moments you'd expect from some of the director's work pre-The Aviator and it's easily one of the best films of 2013. It's something of a must-see, Leonardo Di Caprio's performance is worth the ticket alone.

An instant hit.

2 comments:

  1. xMy question is — is this movie doing anything new? At this point, “white Wall Street conmen experience meteoric rise and disgraceful plummet, as accompanied by prostitutes and drugs; cause us to question our own social values” isn’t new ground to tread. In a year where we had some pretty cool and unusual things happening in mainstream cinema (an animated “princess” movie where the most important relationship was between two sisters, a space thriller whose face was a middle-aged woman, a high-grossing action movie starring a young woman, a sci-fi blockbuster where 2/3 leads were NOT white men, a female buddy-cop movie), this just seems….tired. And honestly, nothing in this review is making me think the movie is going to ask any questions that haven’t been asked a million times, in similar explorations. Pass, sorry.

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  2. Although the film is derivative in its structure (I mentioned Scarface and Citizen Kane as examples) it is doing something new: telling that type of story really well and to a modern audience, with a more relevant setting. It's also based on true events, as was Pain & Gain, and both larger-than-life stories, I feel, were well worth telling. Welcome reminders of how nutty real life can be.

    Whether the cast is mostly white or mostly male is irrelevant and has no impact on the film's overall quality whatsoever. To say that Gravity or Catching Fire are somehow better films than WOWS because they had female leads is just odd, especially since those particular movies were, IMO, far clumsier films than Scorsese's latest. The former was a pretentious space-set sci-fi flick (2001: A Space Odyssey?), the latter was a copy/paste sequel, nothing too unusual or that cool there.

    I would suggest seeing the film before concluding on what it's about and if it's good or not. I liked it and, in a year full of cinematic disappointments, this was actually a breath of fresh air. The film's not really about asking too many serious questions , it's first and foremost a very effective comedy.

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