‘As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a banker’
No, this is not the opening line from the latest Martin Scorsese masterpiece, but a clunky misappropriation of dialogue to help open up my rambling film review and to whisk you away to the good old days of classic Scorsese movies like Goodfellas, which luckily for us is exactly what The Wolf of Wall Street does.
This story concerns stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) the man that Forbes Magazine dubs the Wolf of Wall Street, in an article which makes him infamous overnight. He personally guides us through his life and loves with one love affair eclipsing all others, America’s long love affair with the green stuff (no not peas, money, although they do bloody love peas!).
The film kicks off at full speed like a dwarf being thrown across an office in a yellow helmet (just say what you see), somehow squeezing more exciting imagery into its opening sequence than most directors fit into their whole canons (OK stop imagining film directors with actual cannons now, and while were at it Kubrick can you put down that blunderbuss!).
Containing more questionable colourful characters than an episode of The Black and White Minstrel Show, we are treated to a variety of mad performances from just about everyone involved; Matthew McConaughey introduces us to the intoxicating world of stock broking, burying the memories of his bad Rom-Coms in a fluffy pink coffin, director Rob Reiner shouts his way through the film as Belfort’s terrifying dad, even director Spike Jonze pops up at one point making the whole thing feel like a Where’s Wally for film nerds (oh I’ve found him, there he is, its the bloke who directed that Iron Man movie).
The film itself is quite dialogue heavy due to a script that crackles with wit from Terence Winter, this combined with Scorsese’s stylistic filmmaking helps infuse all the talk with an added dynamism leading us deeper into a bizarre world of pet chimps, midget throwing and Joanna Lumley. A world where the main characters’ attitude towards their stockholders is the same as to their women, they are just there to be fucked!
Now if you find that offensive, you probably won’t want to see the rest of film, to call it fruity would be an insult to greengrocers, here are a few choice cuts from Winter’s script that had me choking on my popcorn:
‘Her pussy was like heroin to me’
‘I fucked her brains out ……for eleven seconds’
‘She’s so hot I’d let her give me AIDS’
The recipient of all this attention is Belfort’s wife Naomi Lapaglia, played by Australian actress Margot Robbie, who to be fair to the extreme dialogue is a blonde beauty so captivating that she’d have old horny Hitchcock getting all gropey.
Along with Margot, Jonah Hill gives a standout performance playing the sort of annoying mini-douchebag that Scorsese would have reserved for Joe Pesci back in the day; my only hope now is that Hill will appear in a Judd Apatow remake of Home Alone with Seth Rogen as the ‘stoned bandits’.
My personal favourite of the many depraved scenes on show is set in a quiet country club where some out of date prescription drugs suddenly kick in, leaving DiCaprio to crawl to his sports car down an ever increasing flight of stairs. Showcasing some of the best monged out acting and subsequent drugged up fighting this side of (Fear and Loathing in) Las Vegas.
DiCaprio’s Belfort screams his way through the movie like a demented sergeant major calling his army of brokers into telephonic war. Young men who lap up his empty speeches following him towards oblivion in their blinkered desire for more and more money, scenes that make it clear why Belfort is now a motivational speaker.
The film has such an exhausting drug-fuelled energy, that like its characters it could have quickly burnt out, but it crashes its way to completion leaving everyone (the audience included) slightly frazzled and dizzy and for days since I’ve been having hangover style flashbacks to my crazy night out with Belfort.
But at 3hrs the film is definitely a bladder burstingly long time to spend with these morally (and financially) bankrupt characters, into the third hour I started to feel a little dirty, like I needed to wash off the smell of money from myself. The characters don’t really develop or learn from their mistakes, they are more ghosts of people, facsimiles in sharp suits, corporate zombies driven by an unquenchable desire for more, more, MORE, no wonder its Brett Easton Ellis’ favourite film of the year.
My only fear is the possibility of another Forbes effect, similarly to the magazine article which inadvertently made Belfort a hero in the financial community, the film might do the same thing, if audiences ignore the moral quagmire at the heart of the story and instead take inspiration from the suits and the beautiful women they could finding themselves also getting that unquenchable desire for more, more, MORE.
RATING: 252 lines of cocaine out of 260
An interview with the real Jordan Belfort:
An article on Jordan Belfort’s current financial situation:
Note: Out of interest when do you reckon Scorsese last made a feature film under 2hrs, go on have a guess. OK well you’re wrong (I assume) it was 1986 with The Colour of Money at 1hr 59mins. That Scorsese loves making people’s bladders explode, apparently its how he gets off.