Martin Scorsese’s 22nd feature film, The Wolf of Wallstreet is a tantalizing, titillating and tremendous movie full of sex, drugs and money – the greatest drug of them all. From the outset, we’re asked if we want to hear what money sounds like, it sounds like “Fuck this, shit that, cunt, cock, asshole” and in the lewd manner that Scorsese sets this feature off, the film only gets more “lude” from there.
The Wolf of Wall Street is the morality tale that lacks morality. It’s about debauchery and excess, following the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Long Island stockbroker who after losing his first stockbroker job, starts his own Wall Street firm – Stratton Oakmont Inc. Here begins Belfort’s “kind of twisted Robin Hood” tale where he “takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers.” Expect three hours of corruption, cocaine and callousness.
To describe the story as excessive would be an understatement, Martin Scorsese and Terrance Winter’s amount of scope is undeniably evident in this three-hour long epic. It’s a wild and unpredictable film that sticks close to it’s protagonist and refuses to veer off into uncompelling tangents. The story develops with the right amount of pace allowing you to connect the dots without becoming lost in this triumph of dark comedy. I particularly enjoyed how the film subtly implies that Belfort is merely an imitation of his mentor early on and the way Belfort addresses the audience through first person narration, enticing and seducing you throughout the film. Scorsese has delivered an unhinged classic that, despite being controversial in almost every sense of the word, keeps you utterly and unanimously gripped until the last high.
Leonardo DiCaprio has previously hinted that comedy might be his strong point, recalling films like Catch Me if You Can, but his energy in The Wolf of Wall Street surpasses any of his previous features. Jordan Belfort is a character who, for all intents and purposes, should shock and disgust the audience, but DiCaprio manages to miraculously save Belfort’s story from depravity and shine it in a gleaming and outrageous light. DiCaprio faithfully keeps an aura of mystery surrounding Belfort, through narration, quality acting and pre-existing ego, you never really know how much of the story is direct recollection or the cocktail of drugs speaking.
However, Belfort was nothing without his right hand man Diamond Donnie Azoff, played by Jonah Hill. His schoolboy charm, phosphorescent teeth and pastel jumpers slung atop his shoulders are all part of the guise. Hill manages to discover new and depraved depths to his humour, tactfully but not subtly bringing you along for this smorgasbord of sex, drugs and europop. It’s also worth noting Matthew McConaughey’s cameo as Belfort’s mentor early on. McConaughey has excellently grasped the role as the off beat character, and it really shows during this brief cameo.
The soundtrack is probably the worst part of the film. While featuring undeniable 90’s classics from Cyprus Hill and entrancing 90’s europop, the way these songs are deployed doesn’t quite fit the film. At one point the Foo Fighters song Everlong is played over a scene, trying its hardest to draw you out of the moment and distract you, invariably resulting in a hit and miss soundtrack.
Despite my minor gripe with the soundtrack, The Wolf of Wall Street is an instant classic that serves to remind us of the darker side of the American Dream, all while we take “that subway ride home to [our] miserable, ugly wives.”
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