<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, PJ Byrne
Mixed reviews are totally normal for this film. There will be some who think it’s a wonderful romp of genius and others who will think it’s the soul of depravity. I think The Wolf of Wall Street has its merits but I doubt it’s deserving of any awards, except perhaps for Leonardo DiCaprio who carries the film brilliantly.
Based on the real life story of Jordan Belfort, a stock trader in the 1980s and 90s who used less than legal ways to make his fortune and lead a life of debauchery, The Wolf of Wall Street is a film that unashamedly glorifies drugs, prostitution and excess.
After his Wall Street job is lost due to a market collapse, Jordan Belfort (Leondardo DiCaprio) is forced to take a job selling shady penny-stocks – unlisted companies that only postmen and the like would buy. But in his inimitable way spurred by his drive for more money he uses his gift of ‘salesmanship’ to outwit his ‘cocksucker’, ‘motherfucking’ ‘clients’ into buying thousands of dollars of stocks thus boosting his sales commission.
Soon enough he starts his own company, selling these very same stocks to high profile clients by training his ‘staff’ to not take ‘No’ for an answer. Before you know it and without nary a hiccup he’s living the grand life, doing drugs, fucking hookers and cheating on his wife (even the second hot one). He has friends in crime of course: the now stereotyped Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff has Jordan’s back and is more of a dope head than his suave friend.
Through the film director Martin Scorsese, who has never shied away from the extreme or explicit, shows our young whippersnappers overindulging themselves with not a hint of conscience. There’s a scene where Jordan, Donnie and his associates are discussing a party where they will throw geared-up midgets at a bull’s eye for sport. How will they throw him? Can they get the midget to show his dick? Jordan narrates the movie to you and in that way somehow hopes to make you a party or a voyeur in his rollercoaster life.
In another scene, one among many that get a tad tiresome by the end of this three hour film, Jordan has overdosed on Quaaludes (a type of sleeping pill that was banned) and then goes on to experience symptoms of Cerebral Palsy in a comical manner. It’s funny and clever no doubt. It’ll certainly appeal to the Bollywood fans in India who love their slapstick humour.
In many ways it’s the treatment of the film and the great acting by Leo that makes The Wolf of Wall Street in a way so deliciously decadent. It’s glib and has attitude.
But those of you waiting to see Matthew McConaughey in the film will be let down only because his role is only about five minutes. But he shines in those five minutes. McConaughey looks emaciated and I don’t think it’s for this role (it was for of his role in Dallas Buyers Club), which he portrays with such a sharp performance he even steals the scenes from Leo.
There’s a lot of frontal nudity in the film but audiences in India won’t get to see them. The censors have cut out about 6 minutes of footage. But that still doesn’t detract from the vulgarity that the film even implies at times – and there’s lots of times.
The Wolf of Wall Street won’t win any awards from the feminists either – though it got lots of giggles from female audience members. Women are generally portrayed as trash to be fucked or nags to be avoided with an exception here and there like Jordan’s colleague who by the end of the film is coaxed (by Jordan who uses a microphone to address his sea of staff) into telling everyone how at the start of her career with him he wrote her a cheque for $25,000 and saved her family from poverty. A poor attempt at trying to humanise him, which fails miserably.
The last half-hour stretches and by that time you’ve seen enough. There’s no wave of up and down, even as Jordan is investigated by the FBI and sent to a jail that looks like a country club. It’s like a flat line with one infantile scene after another and no change in motivations or characters. And is Scorsese trying to tell us that all stockbrokers behave this way, which is why the world is in such financial ruin? It’s believable but probably not likely.
Have a couple of beers (don’t drive) and watch the film but be prepared to sit through three long hours of it. Then to save your soul and give your eyes a bit of fresh mint rejuvenation you can go watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
PS: Read this article 3 Reasons Why Audiences Hate ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ from Business Insider