The Wolf of Wall Street really is a film of excess. Dubbed as Scorsese’s best film since Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street really is taking the box office by storm, has received 5 Oscar nominations, and had 2 Golden Globe nominations of which it won 1.
Yes, it was very good.
Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of New York Stockbroker, Jordan Belfort, and follows him from his rise to the top and his excessive lifestyle, to his eventual downfall into crime, corruption and FBI investigations. The film shows us the world of the late eighties and into the nineties Wall Street. And it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Power hungry ego–maniacs who will screw over anyone to make a buck … or more like a million bucks. Matthew McConaughey’s character put its, “We don’t create shit, we don’t build anything” they just pick up the phone and get rich.
Jordan Belfort is a man of excess. He is charismatic, driven, dishonest and what many would diagnose as a full-blown psychopath. Just to get into the mind frame of this character – one of his early quotes in the film is “I made $49 million last year … which really pissed me off, as it was 3 off a million a week.” He does enough drugs each day to take down an entire city, he has sex with hookers, hookers and more hookers, and makes and spends money like it is going out of fashion. His life is a non stop party and he just can’t quit it.
Wolf of Wall Street is very much what you would expect from a Scorsese film. The narrative isn’t that consistent, the breaking of the fourth wall is picked up and then forgotten about multiple times as the film goes on, the camera work is done fantastically, making you feel like you are seeing things you shouldn’t be, or that we as the audience are being let into an inner circle … oh, and it is very, very long. Running at 3 hours … that’s right, 3 whole hours, this is a film you definitely need to plan your day around!
What is more surprising is just how funny this film is. The trailers hinted that there would be some humour in it, but I was surprised by how consistent the comedy was. Before seeing this I found it hard to understand how this was nominated at the Golden Globes in the comedy/musical category, but I can sort of understand now. What is quite unique about the Wolf of Wall Street is that it doesn’t really fit a genre. It isn’t a full-blown comedy, and it isn’t really a drama.
There has been a comparison made by many, to Scorsese’s 1990 film Goodfellas, that followed the life of (also real) Henry Hill’s rise and fall in gangster land. And I can see why the comparison has been drawn. A rise and fall story, a life of excess, the same narrative structure used, Henry Hill wanted to be a gangster as long as he could remember, Jordan Belfort always wanted to be rich for as long as he could remember … just exchange the guns and killings for drugs and sex. However strangely, I warmed much more to the Goodfellas, Henry Hill character than I did to the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort. Perhaps it was that Hill at least was demonstrated to feel some remorse – Belfort cares about no-one but himself.
Wolf of Wall Street is a lot of fun to watch and is very entertaining, however I did feel like the story was lacking. And that may be because of the length. Although it didn’t feel like I was sat for 3 hours, I did feel like the film could have been cut shorter than it was. This story didn’t need to be told for 3 hours, and after the 3 hours was up the partying was starting to get a bit stale. And this partying to the max!
The performances however were fantastic. DiCaprio was brilliant as Belfort and fully embodied the character he was playing. Jonah Hill has now cemented himself as someone to be taken seriously in Hollywood, proving he can carry a serious role just as well as comedic role … and his character of Donnie Azoff lets us see the best of both sides of Hill, and has been recognised with an Oscar nod, which is now his second. This really is Leo’s show, and he duly delivers. As charismatic as ever, his speeches to his troops are fantastic. He has also proved he can be very funny, and not just verbally funny, physically funny. The supporting players add a lot to the film, and most notably Margot Robbie, a relative newcomer, who plays Belfort’s second wife Naomi, and carries herself incredibly well against such a big name like DiCaprio. We no doubt will be seeing a lot more of her in the years to come. Kyle Chandler played his usual role, Rob Reiner was great as Belfort’s father, and Matthew McConaughey although only on-screen for about 10 minutes has a great impact, and his improvised chest bump that he did on the fly, ended up contributing a great deal to the final product.
This is definitely one that you will want to watch, but I don’t think it is Scorsese’s best. The characters are great, but the story is lacking just a bit to make this an absolute classic – although I’m sure this will be dubbed by most as one of Scorsese’s best. I would definitely watch this again, but not that often … running at 3 hours, you just can’t. Maybe every few years at most.
I’m glad I saw it, I really enjoyed it, I assume it will do very well at the awards – although would be surprised if it wins Best Picture at the Oscars, I think that would be too controversial. But, I don’t think it is quite as good as it is being made out to be. It is currently ranked at 8.6 on IMDB, and audiences are giving it 82% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I’m sitting slightly lower than that and would give this one a 7/10.