Everyone has different motivations to see a certain film. For some, it’s the actors starring in it; sometimes it’s loyalty to a favourite director; and at times it’s a wicked trailer. All three of these are reasons I practically fled to the cinema to devour The Wolf of Wall Street.
It’s rare a trailer entices me as much as this one did. It was in-your-face, it was slick, and it was, frankly, a rush. The concern at hand is did the film live up to the trailer’s promise? Absolutely. Despite being three hours long, the film is, to use my previous term, a rush (or a trip, if you will). It tells the true story of Wall Street legend Jordan Belfort (played, of course, by Leonardo DiCaprio), a stockbroker who stops at nothing, immoral or illegal, to pursue his goal of being rich. And it’s all going swimmingly until the FBI get on his case. The autobiographical element combined with Belfort’s voice-over gives the film a Goodfellas vibe, and much like Goodfellas, you are completely drawn into a world that is dangerous, deceptive and alluring with a depth and attention to detail only Martin Scorsese could pull off.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese are a tremendous combination as proven in films such as The Aviator and The Departed (one might argue DiCaprio is Scorsese’s new De Niro). The Wolf of Wall Street is not Scorsese’s finest film by any means. It does however contain the one signature element that I always look forward to greatly in a Scorsese flick: fantastic cinematography. Nobody works the camera like Scorsese, and kudos must be given to him and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (who also shot last year’s Best Picture winner Argo, and too many other renowned films to list). The quirky editing and use of multiple camera lenses reflects the craziness of Wall Street and the characters’ (often drugged-up) states of mind perfectly.
On the subject of Leonardo, let’s address the wolf in the room: Oscars. With difficulty, I’ll refrain from raving about the consistent brilliance of DiCaprio’s acting and how his mantelpiece should be crowned with multiple golden boys; instead, I’ll focus on the film at hand. DiCaprio is fearless. As always, he excels at embodying the essence of his character, however sleazy or unlikeable. Upon reflection he is the perfect actor to portray a salesperson. DiCaprio could sell himself as any character.
Supporting actors Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie also deserve commendation. The former is fast proving himself a very fine actor and has come more than a long way since the days of Superbad. He is hilarious and convincing as Belfort’s closest associate, Donnie, and is a scene-stealer without becoming a distraction. Margot Robbie, a previous Neighbours star, excels in her femme fatale role. Incredibly, she is the tender age of twenty-three, and her take on such a mature role is very impressive.
The film has been criticised for being too extreme, in the sense of glorifying the lifestyle depicted: sex, drugs, sex again, more drugs, and extra sex and drugs thrown in for good measure. I swear, after watching The Wolf of Wall Street, you’ll suffer your own come down. Personally, I disagree there is glorification, although I hasten to add, nor is there any kind of active discouragement. Truthfully, I rather like the film for this reason. It’s hard not to draw parallels with Goodfellas once again. Just as that was a brutally honest insight into a man’s life, this is too, except it is not the Mafia but Wall Street. Part of me wonders if the criticisms stem from the fact that there may be a bit of “Wolfie” in all of us, whether or not one would admit it or not.
In brief, The Wolf of Wall Street may not be as fine a film as the incomparable Goodfellas, but it is every bit as fun.