The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby Uri » Fri Feb 07, 2014 10:17 am

As I said, I saw The Great Beauty yesterday, and a side effect of this viewing was me having some insights about my own reaction to TWoWS. I wondered why I fully accepted TGB’s take on decadence (and dwarfs) while I felt uncomfortable with that of Wolf. And the best metaphor I could come up with goes something like this - it’s like seeing consenting adults having sex vs. watching children doing the same. It’s not about being judgmental about an activity per se but rather about the social and cultural context of that activity. And as that old saying goes, not being a socialist at 18 makes one a bastard, still being a socialist at 30 makes one an idiot. TDB is a wise film for it’s about post-Marxism nihilism, TWoWS, for what it depicts but also for the way it does it, is not even about pre-Marxism nihilism but rather it takes place in a social oblivion, or, going back to my sex analogy, during the latency phase (while TGB is all about the genital one, obviously).

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby ksrymy » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:34 pm

"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:12 pm

I think Kyle Chandler has been singled out not so much for being the good guy as for offering a character with a different tempo from any other in the film -- much like the person who gets attention in a room where everyone's shouting by speaking softly. Plus, I think his scene on the yacht with DiCaprio is one of the best in the film.

I'm way behind on commenting on films I've seen in the past month, but, to briefly weigh in:

I found the movie immensely enjoyable. The three hours pretty much fly by; many of the scenes are filled with crackling dialogue; and Scorsese shows no signs of losing his directorial zip. The movie's "lack of moral" uproar brings to mind some of the original response to Bonnie and Clyde, where Bosley Crowther and his ilk accused the film of glorifying outlaws. The response than can be repeated now -- "Bonnie/Wolf can look like a glorification of its protagonists only to someone with a head full of wooden shavings". Scorsese has obviously been willing to risk offending the same people who used to hate his films in the 70s/80s for their full immersion in the psyches of sociopaths (Paul Schrader supposedly sent him an email saying "Congratulations on still pissing people off at age 70").

All that said in praise -- and also acknowledging DiCaprio's most impressive, most fully-realized adult performance -- I have to say the dichotomy between content and style troubled me. On the pure content level, my reaction when the film ended was "Tell me something I don't know" -- all I saw was the subject matter of Stone's Wall Street blended with the lifestyle of Goodfellas (sans literal blood). In that sense I'm with Sabin: I don't think in the end the film was about much more than Scorsese's dazzling display of his gifts.

Well, maybe one relatively new issue did peek through, the one Johnny Guitar raised. This is not a film about to-the-manor-born Wall Streeters. It's about aspirers: people born on the outside who want desperately to get inside, and feel no compunction about behaving unethically along the way. DiCaprio speaks early on about "selling garbage to garbagemen", and that's what his crew is doing. But they are themselves garbagemen. You can make the case they are successful as quickly as they are because they understand the minds of the people they're selling to. Then, however, the story takes a turn, as they employ the same techniques to sell to people who are NOT garbagemen -- who are upper-middle if not upper class, and you'd think might be less susceptible to the pitch. But they tumble just as easily. I think Scorsese's point is that Wall Street (as a state of mind, not just a location) reduces men (a few women, but primarily men) to a primitive state, where conscience departs and piling up possessions (whether wealth or women) becomes the only goal. And that class distinctions disappear in such an environment, because success demands a surrender to this primitive behavior. (McConaughey's speech tells us this at the beginning of the film, and the remarkable thing is, nothing in McConaughey's bearing suggests he's anything but a blueblood) This is perhaps the sharpest indictment made in the entire film -- though one I think many of its harshest critics have missed.

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:10 pm

ksrymy wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:Kyle Chandler (an actor I'd never heard of)

Funny enough, he's a very castable, very likable actor - he's been in three Best Picture nominees in the past two years (Wolf, Argo, and Zero Dark Thirty).



This is why I said that I'm ashamed. And he's very good in Wolf of Wall Street by the way. It's just that in a movie so full of "flashy" characters, HIS character hadn't impressed me so much.

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby ksrymy » Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:24 pm

ITALIANO wrote:Kyle Chandler (an actor I'd never heard of)

Funny enough, he's a very castable, very likable actor - he's been in three Best Picture nominees in the past two years (Wolf, Argo, and Zero Dark Thirty).
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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Jan 25, 2014 8:31 am

Not a masterpiece, true - it just isn't profound enough. And I have seen better movies this year (not many though). But my God, this at least is cinema with a capital C! It brings me back to the great American cinema of the past (in form, if not in content), of the time I was growing up - before, let me say it, the "politically correct" castrated it. A cinema which didn't want to be "liked", and likable, at all costs, a cinema which led to discussions rather than harmony. Italian cinema used to be like this, too. And as I was watching it I thought - this was shot by a man in his 70s! And it's much more energetic, much livelier, than, say, American Hustle, which was made by a much younger director and whose style reminded some of Scorsese. (And I was a bit sad because I also thought that soon we won't get THIS kind of cinema anymore - Scorsese is really the last surviving lion of American cinema).

Some scenes are just SO good. So biting, so effective. Better than the movie as a whole, I know, but I don't need perfection, and as I wrote about The Great Beauty (a better movie, definitely, but also an ambitious one) I can forgive flaws when the target is so clearly a high and difficult one. He tried, at least. Not many do so nowadays.

So no, not a masterpiece - but extremely well directed and extremely well acted (extremely well edited too). Leonardo Di Caprio has never tried harder, of course, and this could be the time to give him an Oscar. It would be deserved (though I haven't seen two other nominees yet). I'm not saying that he has suddenly stopped being Leonardo Di Caprio The Star, but by choosing such an extreme, and unlikable, character he has certainly reached places he had never gone before to. It's a showy, but not superficial, acting turn. In other years, he would be a sure winner. And Jonah Hill is so repulsively grotesque that I can understand why he was nominated. The whole cast is really strong.

And now I must come to a big, shameful confession. I've read on this board and more generally in American reviews that the problem with this movie is that it's not "moral". That it lacks a moral side, a judgement on its characters' actions. And interestingly, I've often read of a certain Kyle Chandler (an actor I'd never heard of) singled out as a welcome presence in the movie. And - I repeat, I'm not proud of this, I guess it shows how shallow I am - I checked and it turned out that he played a character that I had completely forgotten about.

This has made me think. For those who haven't seen the movie yet, he basically plays the good guy, the average man who fights the corrupt and the wicked. There must be one in every American movie, it seems - this is no exception. And I had paid no attention to him, at all. And then I've realized that it's true - I don't need a moral in this movie. But not because I am an evil capitalist (those who know me know that I am not!). But because the characters are so obviously disgusting that they speak for themselves, and for their "values", without the need for an obvious moral lesson. The problem is that we aren't used to this anymore - we expect the director to do this job for us. But Scorsese intelligently avoids that - he forces the viewer to immerse himself or herself into this world, without alternatives. He plays with us - he shows us its excessive, grotesque side, but also its more tempting, potentially fascinating one. And I guess that, ironically, only those who can really be tempted, who can really be perversely fascinated, miss that "moral" side, miss the exemplary punishment or at least the point of view of the victims. But in my case, I know already that I am part of the victims, and I would never be in any other camp. So MY OWNS morals are enough - and strong enough. Scorsese treats us as adults - simply.

That's why I basically enjoyed the ride. Ambiguous? Not for me, but even if it were, whats wrong with ambiguity?

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby Uri » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:18 am

It’s interesting. Like you, I wasn’t bored or particularly offended, but I did fill fundamentally uncomfortable. This is not a film for the fainted hearted, tight assed socialists. Your comments about the social context of the film are very illuminating. I guess my problem was that it wasn’t really addresses in the film itself. This film uses a first person narrative, but the fact is that this person is practically a sociopath. And he is a very successful one because his personal traits matched perfectly the cultural and political traits of that particular time in history. His rise (during the Reagan-Bush administration) and fall (during Clinton’s) seem to be happening in a history free void. His operations are happening in a reality in which the people he scams are faceless and lack identity. Now- while these are all true for Belfort – he does live in a cocoon, metaphorical as well as material – Scorsese’s decision not to expend his p.o.v. beyond that of his protagonist is problematic, since it does leave us only with an inside look on this splashy but rather limitedly interesting milieu, with no added insight beyond that of this person, who don’t have any insight at all. I guess that what makes Kyle Chandler’s presence so refreshing, since his character is the only one with ant hint of self awareness. And this lack of self awareness is what makes audiences see it (either approvingly or apprehensively) as a kind of celebration of Belfort’s bravura rather than, not necessarily a condemnation, but a poignant character study. A missed opportunity.

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby Johnny Guitar » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:29 pm

I found the movie really entertaining, but in a particular way that it can be entertaining to see train wrecks (literal, figurative) or trashy reality television. I say this kind of neutrally, not as a defense of The Wolf of Wall Street, but also not as a knock on the kinds of low pleasures these forms allow. I tentatively suspect that Scorsese, as a Catholic, doesn't see pleasure as incompatible with sin (or moral wrongdoing) and thus builds a whole movie out of characters behaving reprehensibly but also in a way that maybe some of us wish, in our most selfish and sinful hearts, we could replicate. Whereas some of the offended attacks against the film want to see a more explicit moralizing, or rather, a distance from the immersive pleasures of such horrifying mistreatment of other humans - the midget-tossing, the misogyny, etc. That all said, I think it's far from a masterpiece, and it does lack something big and crucial in perspective or depth. I just don't think that the perspective that's lacking needs to be a puritanism towards pleasures of the flesh and avarice, when what Scorsese is portraying is a working class fantasy about money enabling people to do whatever the hell they want, other people and consequences bedamned. A subtle underscore to the whole movie is that the capitalist class doesn't even have this fantasy - they already have the privilege. This isn't a movie about the 1%, it's about a smaller subsection of aspirational one-percenters.

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:52 pm

While I like The Wolf of Wall Street (I laughed too much not to, and was never close to being bored), I really do question the purpose of it. It's certainly too over-the-top to be taken seriously, but does it honestly believe that these people are better off for having worked for Stratton Oakmont who ruined countless peoples' lives? Does it honestly believe that you can choose to be rich or choose to lose? None of Jordan's seven dwarf buddies do anything attractive in the film, but we laugh with them as much as at them. He's a frat boy Wizard of Oz who grants their mouth-breathing wishes. It may be a comedy, but calling it a "dark" or "black" comedy is a disservice to the term. It's a sick comedy, the marriage of Scorsese techniques and Todd Phillips sensibilities that I never thought I'd see.

The mild firestorm that has erupted lend the film far more importance than it's really worth. It's the Leo/Marty Show, and they're just fucking around, which for Scorsese means letting his mix of performance and filmic playfulness lead itself by the cock and for DiCaprio it means finally getting a role worthy of his idols. He does his Pacino. He does his Jack. He never questions whether or nor these are the roles we fondly remember them for. I asked my friend upon leaving "Just what the hell is Leo doing in this film exactly?" What I meant was, how does one direct this performance? I'm not sure you do exactly, but the driving force of Jordan Belfort would seem to be "win" culture, or just a childish appetite for more, enjoying every second of his starring role in the cartoon that is his life--I ask again the purpose of this film? I think I differ from a lot of people on this Board because I think Leonardo DiCaprio is quite funny in this film, either pushed farther or reigned in less than he's ever been and he shows us something funny and pretty ugly. MovieFan asks how this ranks in his personal oeuvre and whether he'll be nominated. In this crowded field, I don't think he can be. As for "ranking" this performance, I'm reminded of an article that Mike D'Angelo wrote about movie stars who attempt accents where he posits that "Movie stars should never do accents…The only people who care about foreign accents are the actors, who want to believe themselves chameleons." I would argue that Bahston accents are the exception to this rule, but DiCaprio certainly thinks he's a versatile actor, but truly he's one of the least versatile actors we've ever had. Forget about What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and his performances (while always competent) can be divided up into very strong matinee idol turns (Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, The Departed) and mixed offerings where Leonardo DiCaprio is "trying to do something" (The Aviator, Blood Diamond, J. Edgar). One gets the impression that the older Leo gets, the more swollen his head has become, both literally and figuratively. The Wolf of Wall Street is one of his better performances because it stays within range of what DiCaprio can actually do and he's having such a good time. In Shutter Island and Inception, he gives identical performances and they're both a bit constipated.

I think Jonah Hill is pretty hilarious, and an early scene where DiCaprio asks him whether or not he's married to his first cousin ranks among the funniest things I've seen all year. Afterwards, they sneak around the building to smoke crack. Ultimately, that's the barometer as to whether or not this movie will work for you. It did for me, so while I have massive reservations about The Wolf of Wall Street, I'm forced to fall back to my opening sentence: "While I like The Wolf of Wall Street (I laughed too much not to, and was never close to being bored), I really do question the purpose of it."
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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby ksrymy » Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:38 am

MovieFan wrote:
dws1982 wrote:Really, really, REALLY disliked this one. It was just unpleasant and borderline vulgar, filled with some of the most hateful, unpleasant characters I've ever seen in a movie. I'm not saying that every movie has to have a character who we can "relate to", but every single character is absolutely repulsive. DiCaprio is more unhinged than he's ever been, and I guess it's interesting to see that side of him, and Kyle Chandler is very good as always, but for the most part the performances are lousy. Jonah Hill should be on the Razzie list. The pacing is terrible--when I looked at the time on my phone at one point, my heart just sank when I realized we were only about forty-five minutes into the movie. It's also pretty shoddily put-together for a Scorsese film. Several simple conversation scenes are edited in such a way that it's obvious they're putting together multiple takes; in a sex scene towards the end, DiCaprio magically goes from pants-off to pants-on in one shot. In the meeting between Jean Dujardin and Leonardo DiCaprio, the background is very obviously green-screened. Scorsese movies are often messes, but they're usually well-made messes. I could imagine a decent two-hour movie coming out of this story, but three hours is just an ungodly length for this. The only excuse Scorsese has for making this movie three hours is that Paramount allowed it. Nothing about the material can sustain such a runtime. About as off-putting a movie as I've seen in quite sometime.

I'm guessing a strong opening weekend with sharp declines after due to word of mouth. Granted I was at an early showing with a very small audience, but half of the audience walked out. And honestly, I was seriously considering it. If it hadn't picked up with an interesting set-piece or two around the two-hour mark, I probably would have.


Do you see DiCaprio being nominated for this? Also where do you rank this in terms of his best performances?

I personally think it's his best ever performance. I think he'll be nominated or be the sixth slot who barely misses out.
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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby MovieFan » Sat Dec 28, 2013 4:04 am

dws1982 wrote:Really, really, REALLY disliked this one. It was just unpleasant and borderline vulgar, filled with some of the most hateful, unpleasant characters I've ever seen in a movie. I'm not saying that every movie has to have a character who we can "relate to", but every single character is absolutely repulsive. DiCaprio is more unhinged than he's ever been, and I guess it's interesting to see that side of him, and Kyle Chandler is very good as always, but for the most part the performances are lousy. Jonah Hill should be on the Razzie list. The pacing is terrible--when I looked at the time on my phone at one point, my heart just sank when I realized we were only about forty-five minutes into the movie. It's also pretty shoddily put-together for a Scorsese film. Several simple conversation scenes are edited in such a way that it's obvious they're putting together multiple takes; in a sex scene towards the end, DiCaprio magically goes from pants-off to pants-on in one shot. In the meeting between Jean Dujardin and Leonardo DiCaprio, the background is very obviously green-screened. Scorsese movies are often messes, but they're usually well-made messes. I could imagine a decent two-hour movie coming out of this story, but three hours is just an ungodly length for this. The only excuse Scorsese has for making this movie three hours is that Paramount allowed it. Nothing about the material can sustain such a runtime. About as off-putting a movie as I've seen in quite sometime.

I'm guessing a strong opening weekend with sharp declines after due to word of mouth. Granted I was at an early showing with a very small audience, but half of the audience walked out. And honestly, I was seriously considering it. If it hadn't picked up with an interesting set-piece or two around the two-hour mark, I probably would have.


Do you see DiCaprio being nominated for this? Also where do you rank this in terms of his best performances?

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby dws1982 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:43 pm

Really, really, REALLY disliked this one. It was just unpleasant and borderline vulgar, filled with some of the most hateful, unpleasant characters I've ever seen in a movie. I'm not saying that every movie has to have a character who we can "relate to", but every single character is absolutely repulsive. DiCaprio is more unhinged than he's ever been, and I guess it's interesting to see that side of him, and Kyle Chandler is very good as always, but for the most part the performances are lousy. Jonah Hill should be on the Razzie list. The pacing is terrible--when I looked at the time on my phone at one point, my heart just sank when I realized we were only about forty-five minutes into the movie. It's also pretty shoddily put-together for a Scorsese film. Several simple conversation scenes are edited in such a way that it's obvious they're putting together multiple takes; in a sex scene towards the end, DiCaprio magically goes from pants-off to pants-on in one shot. In the meeting between Jean Dujardin and Leonardo DiCaprio, the background is very obviously green-screened. Scorsese movies are often messes, but they're usually well-made messes. I could imagine a decent two-hour movie coming out of this story, but three hours is just an ungodly length for this. The only excuse Scorsese has for making this movie three hours is that Paramount allowed it. Nothing about the material can sustain such a runtime. About as off-putting a movie as I've seen in quite sometime.

I'm guessing a strong opening weekend with sharp declines after due to word of mouth. Granted I was at an early showing with a very small audience, but half of the audience walked out. And honestly, I was seriously considering it. If it hadn't picked up with an interesting set-piece or two around the two-hour mark, I probably would have.

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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby flipp525 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:22 pm

Why was the main character's Jewishness erased from the screenplay? That's certainly interesting.
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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:08 pm

Contrary to previous reports, The Wolf of Wall Street is NOT three hours long. It is two hours and fifty-nine minutes long.

That's a relief. I thought it was going to be three hours long.

Whether the movie gets nominated or not and whether I like it or not, it's amazing how Scorsese - now in his 70s - still manages to stay relevant. When people hear Scorsese has made a "Scorsese film", everyone wants to see what he's come up with. But still..... two hours and fif---- aw hell, it's THREE HOURS. Sure, if we have to have three-hour long movies, I'd prefer this over a bloated historical bio-drama. But it still sounds exhausting.
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Re: The Wolf of Wall Street reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:53 am

Screen International


The Wolf Of Wall Street

17 December, 2013 | By Tim Grierson

Dir: Martin Scorsese. US. 2013. 180mins

Goodfellas without the guns, The Wolf Of Wall Street finds director Martin Scorsese once again essaying an epic on American corruption, except this time it’s in the land of stockbrokers instead of mobsters. Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of his time working on Wall Street, this dark comedy rubs our nose in its amoral tone for three hours, producing a luridly watchable, often funny tale of the rise and fall of an unscrupulous young broker in the 1980s and ‘90s.

The Wolf Of Wall Street feels like a rehash of one of Scorsese’s favourite themes — people’s willingness to embrace crime to attain the American dream — but here there’s more anger and ambiguity in the telling.

The Wolf Of Wall Street can’t entirely escape a feeling of familiarity — both because Scorsese has pursued familiar terrain before and because this is his fifth film with star Leonardo DiCaprio. But those shades of déjà vu don’t diminish from this movie’s sober recounting of the greedy, remorseless monsters who have cataclysmically altered the country’s (and the world’s) financial landscape.

Opening December 25 in the US, this Paramount offering boasts considerable star power thanks to DiCaprio, not to mention the cachet of Oscar-winner Scorsese behind the camera. The lengthy running time may hurt box office some, but high visibility and a glitzy storyline that parades shameless Wall Street excess should help considerably. Expect good reviews and awards play to contribute to sturdy theatrical grosses well into the new year.

DiCaprio plays Belfort, who got hooked on the adrenaline rush of working on Wall Street in his 20s, only to watch the firm where he was employed collapse during the stock market crash of 1987. Reinventing himself as a seller of seemingly insignificant penny stocks, Belfort founds Stratton Oakmont, a brokerage house that quickly becomes incredibly successful, essentially by conning unsophisticated clients into buying worthless stocks. But Belfort’s escalating wealth — which is accompanied by rampant drug use and a predilection for hookers — raises the suspicions of Denham (Kyle Chandler), an FBI agent who begins investigating Belfort’s shady business practices.

Comparisons to Goodfellas are inevitable and appropriate: Both films are based on real people who serve as the narrator and main character in their stories, guiding us through their lawless worlds until their inevitable downfall. But where Goodfellas had harsher life-or-death stakes because of the violent, dangerous men at its centre, The Wolf Of Wall Street is pitched as a satire, revelling in Belfort and his colleagues’ materialistic, alpha-male hedonism.

With very few women in sight, Stratton Oakmont is depicted as a nightmarish frat-house environment in which machismo dominates. (When we see females around the offices, they’re usually half-naked prostitutes servicing the men, and indeed Scorsese had to trim some of the film’s sexual content to avoid an NC-17 rating.)

Adapted from Belfort’s book by Terence Winter — who created the TV series Boardwalk Empire, which Scorsese executive produces — The Wolf Of Wall Street oversells its milieu’s rampant avarice. There’s a repetition in the movie’s mission to show us just how deplorable Belfort and his ilk were, bombarding the audience with scenes of his insane wealth and detestable behaviour. (To set the tone, the movie opens with him snorting cocaine off a hooker’s ass.) But this numbing effect may be part of Scorsese’s strategy: After three hours of film, which spans roughly 10 years, we feel as if we’ve been immersed in a sick lifestyle that’s cut off from the morals and realities of normal behaviour. The filmmakers don’t criticize this lifestyle, however — instead, they present Belfort’s worldview without commentary, trusting the viewer to recognise the bizarre, almost Fellini-esque excess on display.

In his previous collaborations with Scorsese, DiCaprio has often played tormented or troubled characters, and his portrayal of Belfort shows plenty of the darkness that was present in his performances from The Aviator and Shutter Island. With his jet-black hair and shark-like intensity, Belfort might be compensating for some great pain from his past, but the film never reveals what that might be, consciously eschewing any attempt at creating empathy for the character. Consequently, DiCaprio plays him as a soulless cretin utterly devoid of introspection or scruples.

The actor manages to make Belfort’s overconsumption and competitive fire bitterly funny on occasion. (An extended sequence where Belfort struggles with the after-effects of taking too many quaaludes is one of DiCaprio’s most impressive and hilarious moments as a performer.) Still, DiCaprio’s laser-like focus robs the character of extra dimensions, an artistic choice meant to suggest Belfort’s narrow-minded greed that nonetheless lacks the complexity of his best work with Scorsese.

Because The Wolf Of Wall Street is so much Belfort’s show, the supporting performances often aren’t given the space to really stand out. Nonetheless, Jonah Hill has a few good moments as Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s second-in-command whose comically oversized teeth and generally awkward demeanour suggests a deeply unhappy man who needs financial success to compensate for a lack of confidence. In a small role, Matthew McConaughey plays an early mentor for Belfort, and it’s his cock-of-the-walk assurance that becomes a guiding light for Belfort throughout the rest of his Wall Street career. And as Belfort’s second wife Naomi, Margot Robbie has to grapple with what could be a one-note role as the gold-digging trophy wife. But while the part is underwritten, Robbie gives it some sass, portraying Naomi not as a victim of her husband’s frequent philandering and selfishness but, rather, a street-smart pragmatist who sees clearly how comprised their marriage was from the start.

In his recent films, Scorsese has shown a continued willingness to challenge himself, delving into psychological horror with Shutter Island and 3D family films that pay homage to the early days of cinema with Hugo. As a result, The Wolf Of Wall Street may seem like a return to the Scorsese of not just Goodfellas but also Casino. (As in those films, The Wolf Of Wall Street features wall-to-wall voiceover, a rags-to-riches-to-rags storyline and an insider-y look at a distinctly disreputable American ecosystem.)

Those stylistic echoes add credence to the notion that The Wolf Of Wall Street feels like a rehash of one of Scorsese’s favourite themes — people’s willingness to embrace crime to attain the American dream — but here there’s more anger and ambiguity in the telling. Though the film is set in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there’s no question that today’s Belforts are operating in similar ways, even if the financial assets and trickery are different. (Without ever stating it plainly, the movie clearly suggests that the Wall Street powerbrokers who helped orchestrate the 2008 financial meltdown share Belfort’s predatory mind-set.) Scorsese repeats his old cinematic tricks — choice vintage rock tracks on the soundtrack, bravura camera moves — but The Wolf Of Wall Street’s deceptively flashy exterior masks a bemused, almost despairing resignation that Wall Street gluttony and fraud won’t be going away any time soon. And, as an unexpectedly poignant final shot argues, the problem isn’t so much with the wolves as it is all of us who enable their crooked conduct.


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